Cyclone comes to Australian west coast

The west coast fishing town of Exmouth was battening down Saturday as the second tropical cyclone of Australia's storm season powered toward it with winds gusting up to 180 kilometers (112 miles) an hour. Cyclone Daryl is expected to hit the tiny town 1,270 kilometers (790 miles) north of the Western Australia state capital Perth early Sunday, the Bureau of Meteorology said in a statement. It was unclear precisely where the storm would cross the coast from the Indian Ocean, the bureau said.

State Emergency Service spokesman Des Oregioni said Saturday afternoon there was no sign yet of the heavy rains that usually accompany a cyclone. Cyclone Daryl was downgraded Saturday on a scale of one to five from a category three storm to category two as it tracked south. But it could pick up speed as it moves closer to the coast, Oregioni said.

"People in Exmouth should start to check their first aid kits and get together water containers, torches, portable radios and make sure their cars (are) full of fuel," Oregioni said. Exmouth, with a population of 2,400 people, is 300 kilometers (185 miles) southwest of the industrial town of Karratha where category three Cyclone Clare cut power and telephone lines and created flooding on Jan. 10.

Both are on Australia's most cyclone-prone section of coast. It is a flat, sparsely populated industrial region central to Australia's iron ore and gas exporting industries, reports the AP. N.U.