Tropical Cyclone Christine slammed into Australia’s north-west coast on Tuesday but the iron ore mining operations in the Pilbara region were mostly spared.

Wind gusts of up to 170 kilometres per hour were reported, along with torrential rain along a coastal strip between the towns of Karratha and Port Hedland.

The cyclone, now downgraded to category 2, crossed the coast in farming country near Roebourne. It did not whip up storm surges as feared because the tide was out when it crossed at midnight.

Some of the 1,800 residents of Wickham, about 50 kilometres east of Karratha, told ABC that Christine was the worst cyclone in memory.

“There’s two roofs that have completely lifted, completely gone,” a resident identified as Karen said. “It’s very devastating, very scary.”

Australia’s most destructive cyclone was Tracy, which smashed Darwin so badly in 1974 that the Australian government thought seriously about abandoning its northernmost city. The storm killed 71 people and destroyed 70 per cent of Darwin’s buildings.

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