Parts of Northern Australia are being evacuated as the region braces for two cyclones to make landfall in the coming days – one of which has the potential to be the region’s most powerful storm in years.
Cyclone Trevor is expected to strengthen and hit the Northern Territory on Saturday as the equivalent of a category 3 or 4 Atlantic hurricane, bringing with it destructive winds up to 155 miles per hour (250 kilometers per hour), heavy rain and storm surges.
To Trevor’s west, Cyclone Veronica has strengthened to the equivalent of a category 3 hurricane since Wednesday. It is expected to peak in intensity off-shore, before making landfall Sunday as a weaker system.
Authorities have declared a state of emergency in the Gulf of Carpentaria ahead of Trevor’s arrival. The Northern Territory is now undertaking the largest evacuation ahead of a cyclone in its history, Chief Minister Michael Gunner said at a Thursday press conference.
Trevor’s predicted path over the warm waters of Australia’s Gulf of Carpentaria and the region’s current atmospheric conditions could cause it to strengthen and become extremely dangerous, Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology added. The deadliest cyclone to hit the territory was Severe Tropical Cyclone Tracy, which killed 49 people in the capital Darwin over Christmas in 1974.
“We are expecting to see rapid intensification over the next 12 to 24 hours,” said Todd Smith, the Northern Territory manager of the Bureau of Meteorology, at the press conference Thursday.
“It’s really important that people understand this is a very serious cyclone. Not only is it very intense, it’s very large, it covers a broad area, so people are going to be impacted by it.”
Trevor is expected to make landfall along the southern coast of the Gulf. Authorities have advised those in coastal areas to beware of storm surges.
CNN’s Michael Guy contributed to this report