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Hurricane Elsa set a new wind record as it battered the western coast of Australia

Hurricane Elsa set a new wind record as it battered the western coast of Australia

(CNN) – Cyclone Elsa battered a remote area of ​​Australia’s west coast around midnight local time on Thursday as winds shattered previous records set more than 10 years ago at the same location.

After building off the coast for several days, Hurricane Elsa made landfall between de Gray and Bardoe Roadhouse as a Category 5 storm, according to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM), the equivalent of a US hurricane. Class 4 Atlantic.

Since then, the typhoon has weakened and moved southeast across the state, bringing heavy rains and winds of up to 120 kilometers per hour.

Just before landfall, Hurricane Elsa accelerated over Pedot Island, a small, uninhabited island, with sustained winds reaching 218 km/h over a 10-minute period.

“Cyclone George was the previous record holder with 120 mph in 2007 at the same location!” tweet BOM. Wind gusts on the island, which is a breeding ground for seabirds, reached 288 km/h overnight.

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 are in effect for a large area of ​​Western Australia on April 14, 2023 and there are fears that floodwaters may block access to remote roads. (Credit: WA Department of Fire and Emergency Services)

Officials planned to inspect 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 said the cyclone appeared to bypass major population centers including the city of Port Hedland, home to about 16,000 people, in the most miners.

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“There will certainly be damage along the coastal areas where the crossing occurred, but populated areas largely escaped the brunt when it crossed the coast,” Sutton said.

Port Hedland Mayor Peter Carter told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) that the high winds sounded like a freight train. “I think the city has been very lucky…the city 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 Port Authority said the port reopened on Friday after safety inspections to check for any damage to infrastructure.

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

Reports of “significant damage” surfaced at Bardo Roadhouse, a popular destination for road travelers along the coast, early Friday. One of its owners, Will Bath, told ABC he endured “four hours of hell” and eventually took refuge in a shipping container when Hurricane Elsa tore off the roof.

Australian emergency services workers assess the extent of damage from Hurricane Elsa, which reached remote parts of the country on April 14, 2023. (Credit: WA Department of Fire and Emergency Services)

Authorities have warned residents not to tie up anything that could be blown away in high winds: caravans, trampolines, trailers and any loose items.

Winds of this force are very dangerous. Not only do they knock down trees and power lines and damage roofs and homes, but they can lift large, loose objects from your yard—boats, trailers, or caravans—and launch them into the air, warns Miriam Bradbury, BOM’s principal meteorologist.

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As the storm approached Thursday, coastal areas were placed on a red alert, meaning people are required 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 from wind storms, debris cut-offs and flooding.

Hurricane Elsa is expected to bring heavy rainfall to the region, reaching 200 to 300 mm, according to the management office, and large areas of the state are under flood watch.

“The flooding of rivers could greatly affect roads and access, with many roads being muddy or even inaccessible for days to come,” Bradbury said on Thursday.

The strongest storm to hit any part of Australia was Hurricane Monica, which arrived in 2006 with sustained winds of around 290 km/h as it swept across the eastern and northern parts of Australia.

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