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Tropical low hits Pilbara: Leaves towns flooded, flights cancelled and remote communities isolated

Harriet FlinnThe West Australian
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Rogue weather has begun to hammer the Pilbara, shutting down major roads, cancelling dozens of flights and leaving remote communities isolated after it left parts of the Kimberley flooded.
Camera IconRogue weather has begun to hammer the Pilbara, shutting down major roads, cancelling dozens of flights and leaving remote communities isolated after it left parts of the Kimberley flooded. Credit: Nic Ellis/The West Australian

Rogue weather that has flooded parts of the Kimberley has now reached the Pilbara, shutting down major roads, cancelling dozens of flights and leaving remote communities isolated.

Heavy rainfall has hammered inland Pilbara since Tuesday night as a result of the tropical low moving east, with the major mining town of Newman experiencing 130mm of rain in just 12 hours — almost triple the average January rainfall of 45.8mm.

A Perth Airport spokesperson confirmed 37 flights travelling to and from several towns across the Pilbara were cancelled on Wednesday.

Several major roads have been closed or partially closed due to the severe stormy conditions, including Great Northern Highway and Marble Bar Road, as well as several local roads.

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Great Northern Highway was open as of Wednesday afternoon, but drivers were warned to “use caution due to water over road”.

It comes as the Kimberley braces itself for flash-flooding across the region after the weather landed over the weekend before hitting the Pilbara.

Residents in Karijini, Wiluna, Leinster, Kumarina, Jigalong and Three Rivers have been advised to prepare for possible flash-flooding over the coming days.

Fitzroy Crossing residents have been advised to take immediate action over the next 24 hours, including keeping up to date with changes in water levels, avoiding floodwaters and being prepared to move cars, livestock and equipment.

Flooding along the Fitzroy River is still forecast as major roads remain closed including Victoria Highway.

Jigalong and Parnngurr, remote Aboriginal communities in the Pilbara, were also left isolated as flooding closed the only accessible roads to the communities, which are 170km and 370km east of Newman, respectively.

Damaging wind gusts and heavy daily rainfall are expected to persist over the next few days across the southern Pilbara, Gascoyne, Goldfields and south interior districts.

The Department of Emergency Services is monitoring the situation and has advised residents to avoid walking or driving in floodwaters, stay away from power lines, trees, rivers and streams, and unplug electrical appliances in case of lightning.

For more information, visit www.emergency.wa.gov.au/.

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