Tropical Cyclone Lua Hits Northwest Coast of Australia as Cat 4 Storm

By Charles E. Boyle | March 19, 2012

Following earlier predictions, tropical cyclone Lua came ashore on Australia’s northwest coast, the “Pilbara” coast, as a strong category 4 storm; i.e. wind speeds from 130 to 156 mph – 209 to 251 km/h. It subsequently weakened as it moved further inland, and is currently a category 1 storm.

Lua caused extensive damage as it came ashore between Port Hedland and Broome. Many towns in the somewhat remote region reported fallen trees, damages to roofs and buildings, as well as power outages.

A report from AIR Worldwide, prepared just before Lua came ashore, noted that the Pilbara region “is home to Australia’s largest iron ore port as well as several oil and gas facilities.” News reports indicated that all ships had left port before the storm hit. There have as yet been no reports of major damage to mining or port facilities.

According to AIR, the largest concentrations of exposure near the Australia Bureau of Meteorology’s most likely track were the cities of Port Hedland and Broome, but, as forecast, both cities were “outside of the main area of strong winds, which will serve to mitigate most of the wind damage.

“At the expected wind speeds, wind-related structural damage is not expected to be significant,” according to AIR. “However, damage to the roof frames and roof coverings of homes and businesses may occur, while windows and cladding on engineered structures could be damaged by impact from debris. Most commercial or industrial insured structures on Australia’s west coast are made of concrete and steel, which perform well.”
 
AIR said that it “does not expect significant insured losses from Lua and is continuing to monitor the situation.”

Sources: News Reports and AIR Worldwide

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