Australia’s most powerful tropical cyclone in eight years battered its northwest coast with winds gusting to an apparent record 289 kilometers (180 miles) per hour on Friday, but skirted larger population centers and caused no immediate reports of injuries.

Cyclone Ilsa crossed the Pilbara coast in Western Australia state as a Category 5 storm, the most severe, but weakened to a Category 2 storm as it moved inland, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology said.

Damage was still being assessed in the track of Ilsa, which made landfall in the early morning 150 kilometers (93 miles) northeast of the iron ore export city of Port Hedland in rural Pardoo.

Pardoo had a population of 47 at the last census and the Pardoo Roadhouse and Tavern was destroyed. The two owners stayed behind during the storm and were uninjured, emergency officials said.

“They had quite an uncomfortable and challenging night,” said Peter McCarthy, superintendent of the Department of Fire and Emergency Services.

Cyclone Ilsa approaches the west coast of Australia on April 13, 2023. access point

Beyond Pardoo, acting Emergency Services Minister Sue Ellery described the damage from the storm as «fairly minimal».

Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner Darren Klemm said he was relieved Ilsa had moved to Pardoo after tracing from the Indian Ocean to Port Hedland, the world’s largest bulk export port that ships iron ore. Australian to the whole world. Port Hedland has 16,000 inhabitants and is the largest city in the Pilbara.

The city’s docks had been cleared of ships, including iron ore carriers, before the storm hit.

Port Hedland residents “feel like they’ve dodged a bullet,” Klemm said. «The impact of a Category 5 cyclone in Port Hedland would have resulted in significant damage.»

Ilsa apparently set an Australian record with wind gusts of up to 289 kph (180 mph) on Bedout Island, off the Pilbara coast, before measuring equipment on the island stopped working, the office manager said. Meteorologist Todd Smith. It was not clear if the equipment malfunctioned or the power went out.

«We’re going to do some data checking there, but it’s likely to turn out to be the strongest wind gusts ever recorded by the office team in Australia,» Smith said.

Category 5 cyclones have mean wind speeds greater than 200 kph (124 mph) with gusts greater than 280 kph (174 mph). The last Category 5 storm to cross the Australian coast was Cyclone Marcia in 2015. Marcia caused hundreds of millions of dollars worth of damage in the eastern coastal state of Queensland.