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    Tropical Cyclone Rusty Lands in Australia's North West

    February 27, 2013, 4:51:43 AM EST


    Satellite image of Tropical Cyclone Rusty near the time of landfall on the Pilbara Coast, Northwest Australia, on Feb. 27, 2013. (Navy Research Lab Monterrey)

    The eye of Tropical Cyclone Rusty has rolled ashore in northwestern Australia, packing damaging winds, flooding rain and inundating storm tides.

    Wednesday's landfall was near Pardoo, W.A., at about 5 p.m., local time, the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) said.

    The BoM rated Rusty a "Category 3 cyclone" as it was making landfall.

    Highest sustained winds were estimated at 80 knots (92 mph) by the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) as the cyclone neared land.

    Rusty had spun virtually in place off the Pilbara Coast of Australia's North West on Tuesday, dealing the region a prolonged battering of gales, pounding waves and torrential rain. Port Hedland suffered a record-breaking 36-hour period of gale-force winds, the Australian ABC News website said.

    Near the storm's landfall, rainfall since Sunday was at least 48 cm (19 inches) at Pardoo, the BoM website said.

    The worst of Rusty steered east of Port Hedland, where the only damage reportedly was downed trees across roadways, the ABC said. Hedland is a vital shipping port for much of the iron ore that is mined in the interior north west.

    The storm also missed major offshore oil and gas fields, which lie both east and west of the cyclone track.

    Going forward, the south-bound Rusty was expected to weaken inland, its winds losing their potentially destructive sting. However, flooding rains were forecast to persist over interior Pilbara, potentially disrupting activity at mines in the area.

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