Cyclone Rusty, a category 3 tropical cyclone, hammered into the West Australian coast today, packing a punch with gale force winds expected to hit 200 km per hour and forecast to bring heavy rain and major flooding.
Australia's Bureau of Meteorology issued a warning for "an extended period of destructive winds" and rainfall "heavier than that associated with a typical system."
In coming hours, the storm is expected to intensify into a category 4 storm – on a category of one to five – equal to Cyclone Tracy which obliterated Darwin in Australia's north in 1974.
Perhaps aptly named Rusty, the storm could cause a major disruption in world iron ore trade.It has already shut port terminals used by Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton and handling nearly half the global supply of the steel-making raw material.
The State Emergency Service says communities in the path of the storm, including Port Hedland which has been closed, are on a red alert and people need to go to shelter immediately.
And this cyclone is the latest extreme weather event to have hit Australia in recent weeks, already tested by a record heatwave and dangerous bushfires, followed by storms and flooding in the north and east.
Fresh in the country's memories are the devastating floods that hit the state of Queensland in late 2010 and early 2011. Apart from the tragic deaths, those floods also paralysed much of the state's coal mining capacity.
Why is this happening? Because our climate is changing. Read more>>