Jim Andrews

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Australia Cyclone Poses Serious Danger to North West

February 25, 2013; 10:03 AM ET

Tropical Cyclone Rusty will unleash flooding rain, damaging wind and inundating storm tides over the Pilbara Coast of Australia's north west during the next few days.

The slow-moving, powerful storm will be capable of serious disruption to the flow of mineral commodities such as iron ore.

Landfall by Rusty is forecast to take place on or about Wednesday, local time, near Port Hedland, W.A.

Infrared satellite imagery valid 1430 UTC Monday, Feb. 25, 2013, shows Tropical Cyclone Rusty off the Pilbara Coast of Australia's north west. At the time, top sustained winds were estimated at 70 knots, or 130 km/h. Cyclone movement was slow to the southeast. (image credit: Bureau of Meteorology website)

The center of Rusty was determined by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) to be about 145 miles north of Port Hedland as of 1200 UTC Monday, Feb. 25. Highest sustained winds at the time were reckoned by the BoM to be 70 knots, or 80 mph. Movement was southward at less than 5 mph.

Further strengthening is forecast by the BoM as well as the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) ahead of landfall, so Rusty to make landfall as a tropical cyclone equivalent to a Category 2 or Category 3 hurricane.

The expected slow forward movement would worsen the cyclone impact, insofar as it would prolong excessive rainfall, damaging winds and pounding surf and tides.

Latest forecast landfall is east of Port Hedland, which ships much of the iron ore mined in northwestern Australia. While potentially damaging, this path would spare Port Hedland of the more dangerous eastern side of the cyclone, in which wind direction would be on shore.

Following landfall, Rusty will weaken over the Pilbara. While the cyclone will lose its damaging wind potential inland, its flooding rain will persist southward through at least the Pilbara ranges, which are host to some of the world's biggest iron mines.

The likely path would be east of major offshore oil and gas infrastructure off northwestern Australia.

The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of AccuWeather, Inc. or AccuWeather.com


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