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Australia’s West Coast Braces for Tropical Cyclone Damien

SYDNEY, Australia — Schools were closed, commercial flights were canceled and at least four major ports had been shuttered along Australia’s western shoreline on Friday in preparation for a severe tropical cyclone headed its way.

Tropical Cyclone Damien appeared as a Category 1 storm on Thursday in the northwest reaches of the state of Western Australia before moving offshore and gaining speed, said Brad Hall, a forecaster with the state’s Bureau of Meteorology. It was expected to make landfall on Saturday morning as a much stronger Category 4 storm, he said.

Mr. Hall said it would bring hurricane-force winds and a dangerous storm tide that could lead to severe flooding. “We’re expecting destructive winds of 150 kilometers per hour to develop as it approaches the coast,” he said, with wind speeds as high as 230 kilometers per hour — about 140 miles per hour — near the storm’s center on Saturday.

Tropical cyclones are expected at this time of year on Australia’s western coast, and this one — the third of the season — is likely to be the most intense yet. Tropical Cyclone Blake did not rise above Category 1, and Tropical Cyclone Claudia reached Category 3 but never made landfall. Some reports have said Damien could be the region’s most intense storm since 2013.

Mr. Hall said the storm was likely to thrash small West Australian towns like Karratha and Port Hedland through Sunday before weakening as the weekend tapered off. He did not expect it to become a Category 5 storm.

Mining companies with operations in the area, including Rio Tinto, said they were evacuating nonessential employees and monitoring weather developments. Residents of towns expected to be in the cyclone’s path have been told to move to shelters and prepare emergency kits including flashlights, radios, food and water.

The western storm follows a summer of wild weather in Australia’s east and southeast, where drought and months of scorching summer temperatures led to unprecedented fires that still burn in some places. Last month, many of the same areas endured severe hail storms, with some places seeing hail the size of baseballs.

On Friday, Sydney, its surrounding suburbs and towns in northern New South Wales received much-needed rain. Some places got as much as 11 inches, and there were flash floods in some areas long unused to so much rain.

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