Residents and tourists have started preparing for the arrival of Tropical Cyclone Seroja, which is expected to hit Geraldton this weekend.
Residents living along the coast from Coral Bay to Lancelin are on a blue alert and have been told to start preparing their houses for the dangerous weather.
The category 1 tropical cyclone is expected to gradually intensify as it tracks to the south-west over open waters today, where it will then accelerate to the coast and hit Carnarvon and Jurien Bay by the end of the week.
Heavy to intense rainfall will likely cause flash flooding for the area, with abnormally high tides having the potential to cause serious flooding along the coast in Denham and Shark Bay.
The eye of the cyclone is forecast to reach wind speeds larger than 125km/h, bringing destructive winds to the coastline.
Today caravan park visitors were packing up and preparing to leave Geraldton and surrounds before the wild weather arrives.
Kalbarri Anchorage Caravan Park is not officially closed but are advising travellers not to come.
A park spokeswoman said most people had already packed up and left and travellers who were expected to arrive today had postponed their bookings to next week.
She said some people travelling from WA’s North West had stopped to rest for the night before making their way home tomorrow.
The park would officially close if a yellow alert is issued.
Perth resident Kimberley Howes was rolling up sleeping bags and securing bikes to the car at Sunset Beach Holiday Park after making the decision to cut her holiday short due to the weather forecast.
Mandurah couple Angela and Arthur Cunningham also decided to leave Geraldton a day early as a precaution.
“Better to be safe than sorry,” Mrs Cunningham said.
Supermarkets were full of activity as residents stocked up on bottled water, batteries, cans of baked beans, soup and spaghetti and pet food.
Toilet paper stock numbers had not dropped to peak COVID-19 panic buying levels and shoppers did not appear to be loading their trolleys with more than they needed when the Geraldton Guardian visited Coles and Woolworths this morning.
The City of Greater Geraldton is also taking steps to prepare for the cyclone, with the Ellendale Pool closed until further notice and 1500 sand bags to be deployed to the laydown area opposite the caravan park at Point Moore this afternoon.
Access tracks have been closed at Point Moore and beach sand has been mounded up to mitigate storm surge.
At Tarcoola Beach, the South Pipe stormwater outfall will be cleared to accommodate heavy rainfalls.
The Mullewa Caravan Park will be closed until further notice.
City personnel were also seen removing a swimming pontoon off Champion Beach, and yesterday took down shade sails from all coastal playgrounds.
But some locals thought the Geraldton community was not taking the threat of the cyclone seriously.
Geraldton resident Peter Thatcher was clearing his front garden of potential hazards this morning and said other locals appeared too complacent about the possibility of Cyclone Seroja passing close to the City.
“Looking at the track at the moment we’re a bullseye — right in the path,” he said.
“I’ve been here in Geraldton for 30 years and we haven’t had one come on directly.”
Ensuring emergency kits are ready to go, and checking in with neighbours and friends are just some of the safety precautions DFES advises residents to do.
North West Coastal Highway will possibly close from todayand travellers north of Minilya will not be able to travel south.
DFES alerts drivers to reduce their speed and take caution when travelling through the areas.
“Never drive into water of unknown depth and current,” DFES warned.
Those on vessels in the water or on an Island off the coast between Onslow and Jurien Bay, including Abrolhos Islands, should prepare to move to a safe location immediately.
The Weather Bureau said the system could reach a ‘severe strength’ category three as it moves inland.
“Cyclones that are formed towards the end of the season have a greater chance of becoming severe because they tend to form further in the north, giving them more time to develop,” a Bureau of Meteorology statement said.