Australia's Northwest Braces for Strongest Cyclone in a Decade

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By Renju Jose

SYDNEY, (Reuters) -Australia's Northwest region is likely to be affected by the strongest tropical cyclone in a decade. Ports cleared ships and residents rushed for essential supplies.

Cyclone Ilsa was located 300km (186 miles) offshore Australia's coast in Indian Ocean. It was upgraded to a Category Four Storm on Thursday morning. This is one rung lower than the strongest category 5.

According to the Bureau of Meteorology, it is expected to land on Thursday night with winds of up to 171 mph and speeds of up to 265 km per hour.

Miriam Bradbury, a meteorologist, stated that they have a lot strength and can knock down power lines and destroy trees, but also lift up any loose items, such as caravans and trailers, in their yard.

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According to the weather bureau, Ilsa could have an impact on 600km of sparsely populated territory from just north of Port Hedland Eastwards to just South of tourist town Broome.

Port Hedland, the largest export point for iron ore in the world, is home to BHP Group and Fortescue. It is also used by Gina Rinehart's Hancock Prospecting and billionaire Gina Rinehart. Rio Tinto exports from Port of Dampier which is located to the west of Port Hedland.

According to the weather bureau, Port Hedland could be spared from "the very destructive core" of Ilsa but wind gusts up to 155 km/h could still batter the mining town.

It will be the strongest system to strike the country's northwest region since Cyclone Christine in December 2013. Jessica Lingard, a weather forecaster, said that it was the strongest system since Cyclone Christine.

In an email response, BHP stated that it was monitoring the cyclone closely but that its mining and rail operations were still being conducted. Fortescue spokesmen said that it had temporarily suspended shipping operations to the port and other non-essential travel, but that it didn't expect any significant disruption to its operations at this point.

For several remote communities, a yellow alert has been issued, which requires residents to be prepared to shelter from cyclones. Port Hedland was the target of the alert, as the majority of its 15,000 residents work for mining companies.