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Cyclone Bianca skims the Pilbara coast

A CYCLONE warning is in place for parts of the Pilbara coast as developing Tropical Cyclone Bianca races parallel to the coastline.

Early this morning the system was upgraded to a tropical cyclone, with central wind gusts reaching as high as 130km/h. Bianca is rapidly gaining intensity as she remains over the warm, open waters of the Indian Ocean.

The cyclone is expected to reach a category three intensity within the next 24 hours as it continues to track southwest just off the Pilbara coast.

Gales are expected for a period between Wallal and Karratha today and should extend to Coral Bay on Thursday. There is even the risk of destructive winds later today with gusts to 160km/h possible between Port Hedland and Karratha.

Bianca will also whip up dangerous storm tides around Port Hedland and Karratha as tides rise significantly. This may lead to damaging waves and dangerous flooding.

Heavy rain is also expected for coastal areas between Cape Leveque and Port Hedland. While localised stream rises are expected there is unlikely to be any major flooding.

Due to these risks, a cyclone warning has been issued for coastal and island communities from Wallal to Coral Bay.

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