Australian iron ports evacuate ahead of cyclone

Australia’s iron ore ports have commenced port and anchorage evacuations as a tropical cyclone builds up off the coast of Western Australia.

Port Hedland plans to shut down completely with the last vessel’s departure scheduled to clear the channel by 7pm.

As of 11am the tropical low was located just east of Broome and tracking WSW towards the coast. The system is expected to move over open water by early afternoon and develop into a tropical cyclone late tonight or early Tuesday, as informed by Pilbara Ports Authority.

The authority said that the system was small and had the potential to develop rapidly, but due to only moderately favourable conditions was not expected to develop intensity above a category 1.

The system is also expected to track parallel to the Pilbara coast over the next 36 hrs at a reasonable speed of movement and consequently a relatively short port closure is expected.

DFES have advised (depending upon system development) that they may not increase the alert status to yellow, as the potential for destructive winds is relatively low. “We have commenced evacuating our vessels from the Inner Harbour in line with evacuation procedures issued by the Pilbara Ports Authority. Our focus remains on ensuring the safety of our people,” BHP Billiton said.

Port Hedland is on blue alert.

The port of Dampier is at cyclone response stage 3 – clear port.

Clearing the port and anchorages of all large vessels has been launched at Dampier as well, with a view to having all large vessels clear of port limits 12hrs prior to the onset of gale force winds.

This time frame is designed to ensure adequate margins of safety, and to provide ships adequate time to clear the coast, the port authority added.

All Dampier anchorages are closed to new arrivals, with the exception of vessels proceeding to their designated cyclone moorings and small vessels seeking safe haven.

All port anchorages, inner and outer, will be cleared by 3 pm today, the authority added.

The port authority anticipates, a staged re-opening of the port at 3pm on Tuesday.



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