Cyclone Ilsa has been downgraded after weakening below tropical cyclone intensity, with Western Australia left relatively unscathed by the wild weather.
The severe weather system crossed the WA coast just before midnight on Thursday near Pardoo Roadhouse, bringing winds of up to 289km/h.
Ilsa weakened below tropical cyclone intensity around 7.20pm on Friday when it was east of Kunawarritji.
At 8pm on Friday night, the rest of the communities in tropical cyclone Ilsa’s path were given the all clear.
Residents in communities between Broome and Whim Creek, Wallal Downs, Pardoo Roadhouse, De Grey, Marble Bar, Nullagine, Telfer, Punmu, Parnngurr, Kunawarritji and Kiwirrkurra were advised that wind and storm surge dangers had passed.
The remnants of Ilsa will continue to produce damaging winds as it moves across WA and into the Northern Territory on Saturday morning.
According to the Bureau of Meteorology’s Todd Smith, the cyclone was so extreme, that the record books are already being opened.
“Our automatic weather station recorded a wind gust at 289 kilometres an hour,” he said.
“We’re going to do some checks on the data there, but it’s likely that that will go down as the strongest wind gust ever recorded by the Bureau’s equipment in Australia.”
And while Port Hedland managed to escape relatively unscathed, Pardoo Roadhouse — which sits 150km to the east of Port Hedland — wasn’t so lucky.
Workers’ accommodation dongas — empty with all staff hunkered down in a shipping container — were flattened, while the roof of the main roadhouse building was almost completely torn off by the wind.
It’s estimated the total damage bill will be close to $4 million, with the roadhouse owners launching a GoFundMe page to help pay for the damage.
As of 8.30pm, the GoFundMe had raised close to $12,000.
Acting Emergency Services Minister Sue Ellery said it was the first category five system to make landfall in WA since 2009.
“It would have been for (Pardoo Roadhouse) a terrifying night and a distressing sight this morning,” she said.
Repairs to the roadhouse would be covered by insurance, not disaster relief funds, but the State Government would do what it could to assist that process, she added.
She said it was fortunate other major population centres, including Bidyadanga, were spared the worst of the cyclone.
“I’ve been told that early assessments in those areas show damage is fairly minimal and that’s a huge relief for those people living and working in that area,” she said.