MAJOR flooding is expected as Tropical Cyclone Rusty moves inland from Western Australia's Pilbara coast.
The eye of the massive storm hit land just before 3pm (WST) on Wednesday, more than 30 hours after the northwest coastline was placed on red alert and residents told to take shelter and stay indoors.
Late on Wednesday night, people in or near communities between Pardoo and Nullagine, including Marble Bar, were on red alert and advised to go to shelter immediately.
Rusty will gradually weaken as it moves inland, but wind gusts of more than 165kmh are expected near the eye of the cyclone overnight on Wednesday, when the threat of a dangerous storm tide remains for the coast between De Grey and Wallal.
Wind gusts of more than 125kmh were expected to reach Marble Bar on Thursday as the cyclone heads that way.
Flooding is expected in the De Grey catchment, and possibly in the Fortescue catchment and in Pilbara coastal streams, on Thursday.
Late yesterday, Perth Tropical Cyclone Warning Centre duty forecaster Peter Clegg said the cyclone was moving at a speed of 9kmh in a south to south-easterly direction, but within about 12 hours its speed is expected to double.
He said the cyclone is still a category three, but it is expected to weaken over the next two days.
Port Hedland, which was initially expected to bear the brunt of the storm, appeared to have come off relatively unscathed, after the cyclone took a last minute turn before making landfall.