Australia braces for tropical cyclone as heavy rain lashes bushfire area

Western Australia was lashed by destructive winds on Saturday as the bushfire-ravaged country braced for an incoming storm.

Tropical cyclone Damien was expected to make landfall on the west coast near Port Hedland. Operations at the world's largest iron ore port have been suspended.

Read more: Australia's rising prices the cost of nature's wrath

At 10:00 local time (02:00 UTC) Damien was rated as a Category 3 storm with sustained winds of 150 km/h (93 mph), according to the Bureau of Meteorology in Western Australia.

They tweeted an animation to show the predicted path of the cyclone.

Residents of coastal towns were urged to seek shelter. Although the bushfire crisis was centered in eastern states, sparsely-populated Western Australia has also been facing multiple severe fire warnings with hot temperatures expected across most of the state.

Rain may dampen fires

On the other side of the country, in eastern states of New South Wales and Queensland, where bush fires have wreaked havoc since September, the weather bureau issued a "severe weather warning" for damaging winds, heavy rain, abnormally high tides and possible floods.

There are still 40 active fires in New South Wales, though authorities say that these downpours may dampen them.

Over the last few weeks, the rainfall has been the heaviest for 20 years, following a catastrophic and unpredictable year for Australian weather.

Fires have killed 27 people and burned through over 1 million hectares, killing more than 1 billion animals in Australia.

ed/dj (Reuters, AP)

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