One down, another big cyclone on the way.
That’s the picture over northern Australia as what is left of Cyclone Trevor moves inland from the Gulf of Carpentaria and, 2500km to the west, the strengthening and slow-moving Cyclone Veronica creeps towards its date with the Pilbara.
While Trevor was downgraded early on Sunday morning to a mere tropical storm as it headed into the interior to die, Veronica is drawing strength from warm Indian Ocean waters and is likely to be at least a category four blow when it turns its fury on the coast.
Northwest communities have spent the weekend battening down and preparing for the worst.
The Bureau of Meteorology expects Veronica to make landfall late on Sunday afternoon, with residents warned there will be no escaping torrential rain, a damaging storm surge and destructive winds for 12 hours or more.
The peril is heightened by Veronica’s dawdling progress.
An unusually slow-moving weather system, its 165 kilometres per hour winds could batter coastal communities, lashing Port Hedland, South Hedland, Whim Creek, Point Samson, Wickham, Roebourne, Karratha and Dampier for as long as 12 hours.
Shops have been stripped of survival essentials, with signs outside hardware stores telling anxious locals not to bother asking for sandbags, which have sold out in some towns.
Likewise batteries, bottled water and canned food have vanished from supermarkets as locals prepare to endure raging winds.
Port Hedland Mayor Camilo Blanco said in a video shared to the town’s Facebook page that residents needed to evacuate or “bunker down” before the cyclone made its way along the northwest coast.
“It’s very important for the public in Port Hedland to understand how dangerous this is,” Mr Blanco said.
“If your roof comes off, or potentially can come off, you need to bunker down in the strongest part of your house, normally the toilet and bathroom area.
“Use your furniture like mattresses to cover yourself… and do not venture outside.”
Mr Blanco warned residents could soon be without power and urged them to listen to battery-powered radios and gather enough water and food to last several days.
Meanwhile, back in the Northern Territory, the threat has not entirely passed for communities near Tennant Creek, 500km from the coast, as the Bureau of Meteorology on Sunday warned of heavy rain and destructive winds in the NT’s east.
The ex-cyclone crossed onto the mainland as a category four storm on Saturday morning, producing wind gusts of 230km/h around the NT’s border with Queensland.
Emergency services and the Australian Defence Force evacuated more than 2100 people from Northern Territory communities on the Gulf of Carpentaria on Thursday ahead of the predicted full force of Cyclone Trevor making landfall on Saturday.
“We used buses, vehicles, ferries, planes, helicopters and anything else in between we can get out hands on,” police regional controller Travis Wurst said.
Those same residents were starting to trickle back to their homes on Sunday, with the first repatriation flight carrying people back to Angurugu and Umbakumba.
Further plans are being made as assessors sweep through properties to see if they are safe.
Teams have cleared homes in Angurugu, Umbakumba and Ngukurr, but officials are still waiting for word about homes in Borroloola and Robinson River and Bickerton Island, west of Groote Eylandt.
“This does take a personal toll,” Chief Minister Michael Gunner told reporters on Sunday.
“Your homes, your lives, the places you know and care about are threatened.”