Western Australia is devastated by a severe storm.

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Powerful storm hits Western Australia. image: DEPARTMENT OF FIRE AND EMERGENCY SERVICES

Despite establishing a record for wind speed, a strong cyclone that slammed Western Australia as a category five storm spared populated areas from significant damage.

A powerful tropical cyclone, named Ilsa, struck the state near Port Hedland, the world’s largest iron ore export hub, shortly before midnight (17:00 BST), causing widespread damage and disruption.

Although the storm has been downgraded to a category three cyclone, a red alert remains in place for some inland communities.

According to Port Hedland Mayor Peter Carter, the sound of the wind hitting the town was described as “very eerie and unusual” and “like a freight train.”

The Pardoo roadhouse, a well-known local tavern and caravan park located in the path of the storm, suffered significant damage, as reported by its owners on Facebook.

Despite the severity of the cyclone, there have been no reports of injuries to people, and all critical infrastructure was reported to be undamaged, according to the region’s fire chief.

However, once crews are able to assess the situation on the ground and helicopters are deployed, further evaluations of roads and other critical infrastructure will be conducted, as mentioned by Peter Sutton of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).

As the storm made landfall, winds of 218km/h were recorded on Bedout Island just off the coast, setting a preliminary 10-minute sustained wind record for Australia.

The previous record was 194km/h, which was recorded during Cyclone George in 2007, making Ilsa the strongest cyclone to hit the region in approximately 14 years.

The region of northern Australia is accustomed to cyclones, but Severe Tropical Cyclone Ilsa is the strongest to hit the area in 14 years, according to the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM).

The cyclone’s very destructive winds were moving inland, but it is predicted to weaken further overnight into Saturday.

As the cyclone approached, residents of Port Hedland took last-minute precautions by sandbagging and securing homes and businesses, as reported.

Emotions within the town were mixed, with some residents not overly concerned, while others were more anxious due to the rarity of cyclones of this magnitude.

Reports indicate that ships, including iron ore carriers, were relocated from the Port Hedland harbour as the storm approached, in an effort to mitigate potential damage.

The last category five cyclone to hit Western Australia (WA) was Cyclone Laurence in 2009, with Cyclone George, another category five storm, causing three fatalities as it swept through mining camps just south of Port Hedland two years prior.

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