June 4, 2023

Great Indian Mutiny

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Cyclone Elsa makes landfall, sets new wind record as it batters Australia’s western coast

(CNN) Hurricane Elsa It crashed into a remote area of ​​the coast in Western Australia around midnight Thursday local time with wind speeds that broke previous records set more than 10 years ago at the same location.

After brewing off the coast for several days, Hurricane Elsa made landfall between de Gray and Bardo Roadhouse as a Category 5 storm, according to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology — the equivalent of a Category 4 hurricane in the Atlantic.

Since then the cyclone has weakened and is moving southeast across the state, bringing heavy rain and sustained winds of 120 kilometers per hour (74 mph).

Just before hitting the mainland, Elsa darted over Pedot Island, a small, uninhabited island, with sustained winds reaching 218 kmph (135 mph) over a 10-minute period.

“The previous record holder was Cyclone George with 194 km/h in 2007 at the same location!” BOM tweeted. Overnight, wind gusts on the island, a breeding ground for seabirds, reached 288 km/h (179 mph).

It is not yet clear what damage the cyclone caused in Western Australia, although the winds were likely to cause significant damage to trees, buildings, power lines and other infrastructure.

Flood warnings have been issued for a large swath of Western Australia, with fears that the waters may block access to remote roads.

Officials were planning to survey the damage from the air when it was safe enough for helicopters to fly over the area.

On Friday, Superintendent Peter Sutton, of the Western Australian Fire and Emergency Services department, said the cyclone appeared to have missed major population centers, including the town of Port Hedland, which is home to about 16,000 people, most of whom are miners.

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“There will certainly be damage along the coastal areas where the crossing occurred, but populated areas have not escaped the brunt of the eye as they cross the coast,” Sutton said.

Port Hedland Mayor Peter Carter told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) that the gusts of wind sounded like a freight train. “I think the town has been very lucky… the town is still here,” he told CNN affiliate Seven News.

Port Hedland is the world’s largest export port, with large quantities of iron ore loaded and shipped to countries such as China, Japan and South Korea. The Pilbara Ports Authority said the port reopened on Friday after safety inspections to check for any damage to infrastructure.

Bidiadenga, the state’s largest indigenous community, home to about 850 people, was relatively unscathed, according to earlier reports.

Early Friday, reports emerged of “significant damage” at Pardo Roadhouse, a popular destination for highway commuters along the coast. One of its owners, Will Bath, told ABC he endured “four hours of hell” and eventually took refuge in a shipping container while Hurricane Elsa tore the roof off.

Emergency services workers assess the extent of damage caused by Hurricane Elsa.

Authorities have warned residents not to tie up anything that might fly around in strong winds – caravans, trampolines, trailers and any loose objects.

“Winds of this force are extremely dangerous. Not only can they knock down trees and power lines and damage roofs and homes, but they can also lift large loose items from your yard — boats, trailers or caravans — and bring them in,” BOM chief meteorologist Miriam Bradbury warned. air.

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As the storm approached Thursday, coastal areas were put on a red alert, meaning people need to stay where they are and take shelter inside buildings, away from windows and doors.

Evacuation centers have been opened for people brought in from remote communities who are at risk of being blown away by winds and being cut off by debris and flooding.

Hurricane Elsa is expected to bring heavy rainfall to the region — as much as 200 to 300 millimeters, according to the management library — and large areas of the state are under flood control.

“River flooding could greatly affect roads and access roads, with many paths becoming muddy or even inaccessible over the coming days,” Bradbury said on Thursday.

The most powerful storm ever to hit any part of Australia was Cyclone Monica, which arrived in 2006 with sustained winds of around 290 km per hour (180 mph), sweeping through the eastern and northern parts of Australia.

This tornado missed densely populated areas but downed trees and caused severe damage to vegetation along with a storm surge of up to six metres.