The Pilbara Ports Authority told all large vessels to clear the terminal overnight in anticipation of the arrival of the first tropical cyclone of the summer.
The Pilbara and Kimberley regions are bracing for the cyclone — to be called Lucas — with communities being urged to prepare themselves and tourists told to evacuate.
The Department of Fire and Emergency Services has issued a Blue alert for communities between Beagle Bay and Port Hedland, including Broome.
Significant swell is expected at Port Hedland, home to the world’s largest bulk export terminal with iron ore miners among the key users.
The Bureau of Meteorology said a tropical low was intensifying as it moved towards the coast and and may develop into a cyclone early on Friday and reach category 2 intensity later in the day.
Gales may develop on the coast near Bidyadanga and Broome during Friday afternoon and may extend to other parts of the warning area during Friday evening. But gales are not likely at Port Hedland, the bureau said.
“Heavy rainfall combined with strong winds may develop along the west Kimberley coast and east Pilbara coast, to the east of Port Hedland, early on Friday and extend inland east of Port Hedland during Friday afternoon and evening,” the BOM said.
Holidaymakers camping or travelling in caravans are being urged to find safe accommodation or leave the warning area immediately.
The Bureau of Meteorology had anticipated a potential category three cyclone but has downgraded its forecast.
Lucas will be the first tropical cyclone to hit the WA coast this season.
Additional emergency crews could be deployed from Perth to the State’s north on Friday depending on the severity of the impact.
Another tropical cyclone could hit the remote Cocos Keeling Islands, 900km from Christmas Island, in coming days.