No further information immediately available.
Published Thursday, January 11, 2018
Tropical Cyclone Joyce has formed off the north-west Kimberley coast and is expected to intensify on Thursday while moving in a south-westerly direction.
The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) said the category one system was carrying sustained winds of 65kph near its centre, with gusts up to 95kph.
Those wind gusts could increase to up 180kph on Friday and tides will be higher than expected between Cape Leveque and Pardoo Roadhouse.
A yellow alert warning is in place for the area from Cape Leveque and Bidyadanga, including Broome, and a blue alert remains for people from Bidyadanga to Port Hedland.
A yellow alert to prepare to take shelter is in place for the Kimberley including the tourist areas of Broome and Cable Beach and the Aboriginal community of Bidyadanga.
It is the region's second cyclone in a fortnight after Tropical Cyclone Hilda hit the Broome area.
Authorities are concerned that the longer the system remains offshore the more it will strengthen before potentially hitting populated areas such as Port Hedland in the Pilbara on Friday night or Saturday morning.
Joyce was declared a category one cyclone on Thursday morning with winds of 65kmh but is set to grow to a far more dangerous category three by Friday with winds up to 180kmh.
Department of Fire and Emergency Services regional head Glenn Hall on Thursday ordered the closure of the Great Northern Highway between Port Hedland and Broome for 36 to 48 hours.
Emergency crews have been sent to Broome from Perth while an evacuation centre set up is already providing shelter for almost 150 people.
"Cyclones should never be underestimated; as (Joyce) crosses the coast it will be a severe tropical cyclone," Mr Hall told reporters.
"The winds from that will be destructive, there are no two ways about it, so we need to make sure we are prepared."
Mr Hall also warned against risk-taking during the wild weather amid reports of people planning to go surfing while Senior Sergeant Brendan Barwick of Broome police said residents should refrain from holding "cyclone parties" which have been common in the past.