Second cyclone heads for Australia
Sydney - Australia was bracing for its second cyclone in as many days on Sunday with a tropical low intensifying off the northeast state of Queensland.
Cyclone Lua, the strongest storm to hit Australia since last year's destructive top-strength Cyclone Yasi, ripped into the nation's minerals-rich west coast on Saturday, bringing wild winds and heavy rains.
Emergency officials said the sparsely-populated region appeared to have escaped the worst, with no injuries and only minor damage reported so far from the storm, which was rated category four of five in severity.
"With the category four and with the winds that it had when it crossed the coast, we've been extremely lucky not to have sustained quite a bit of damage in some of those areas," said Lyn Bryant, spokesperson for the Fire and Emergency Services Authority (FESA).
Lua had dissipated to a category one storm by Sunday afternoon and was expected to drop below cyclone strength before nightfall according to the Bureau of Meteorology.
But forecasters said a second cyclone was forming in Australia's northern Gulf of Carpentaria region, with the bureau warning residents to prepare for gales of up to 185km/h and possible flash flooding.
"The low is expected to continue moving in a northwesterly direction over southern Gulf of Carpentaria waters today, where it may develop into a tropical cyclone on Monday," the bureau said.
Cyclones are common in northern and western Australia during the warmer months, with last year's Yasi - the worst storm in a century - wreaking Aus$1bn in damage along the Great Barrier Reef coast.
Western Australian residents told of their harrowing wait as Lua raged through the night, bringing 250 kilometre an hour winds and drenching rains.
"It was absolutely horrific," said Janet Robb, manager of the Pilbara Roadhouse that was directly in the cyclone's path.
"There was half an hour there where you thought, 'Is this ever going to end? Is the roof going to lift? Is the wall going to cave in?'," Robb told Fairfax newspapers.
"It was pretty wild. At least we're alive."