Cyclone Rusty closes major Western Australian ports

rust tropical cyclone storm western australia pilbara

Tropical cyclone Rusty's forecast track map from Australia's bureau of meterology

Port Hedland, Cape Lambert and Dampier ports in Western Australia are all shutting down on Sunday in anticipation of tropical storm expected to hit three days from now.

Cyclone Rusty became a category one storm on Sunday afternoon and continues to intensify as it approaches the Pilbara and Kimberley coasts, a region where half of the world's seaborne iron ore is shipped.

Vessels are heading out to sea in preparation.

The storm is on track to make landfall near Pardoo, 150km east of Port Hedland, either late Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning.

"Rusty is a large tropical cyclone and its slow movement is likely to result in higher than usual rainfall in the Pilbara and western Kimberley," writes the  Australia's bureau of meteorology in a news release.

"Very heavy rainfall is expected in near coastal parts of the eastern Pilbara and western Kimberley on Monday. During Tuesday and Wednesday widespread very heavy rainfall is likely to lead to major flooding in the De Grey catchment. Significant flooding in the Fortescue is also likely."

Port Hedland reported gusts of 76/km on Sunday night from the front edge of the storm.

Creative Commons image of Port Hedland by Eugene Regis