Western Australia: How powerful will Cyclone Ilsa be and how does it compare to previous storms?

Cyclon Ilsa has recorded 196 miles per hour over the Indian Ocean. Credit: AP

With gusts of almost 200 miles per hour, Cyclone Ilsa is storming towards Western Australia and is expected to bring disruption when it makes landfall.

The tropical cyclone is forecast to be the most powerful in eight years to hit the country.

The Bureau of Meteorology - Australia’s state weather forecaster - is expecting widespread destruction as it crosses the Pilbara coast by early Friday and a danger to life 'red alert' has been issued.

ITV News Weather Presenter Lucy Verasamy explains what is expected once the powerful cyclone makes landfall.

When and where is Cyclone Ilsa expected to hit? Cyclone Ilsa is expected to make landfall on the north-west coast of Western Australia late on Thursday/early Friday - Australian Western Standard Time - this is eight hours ahead of the UK.

How powerful is it expected to be? And what speeds could the winds reach? It's a Category 5 storm - the most powerful on the cyclone scale - with a red alert area for near 300 miles of coastline.

Winds are expected to be 'very destructive' at the core of the storm with gusts of up to 183mph.

Heavy to intense rainfall is expected along the track of Isla. 150-300mm of rainfall is possible in the coming hours - with amounts decreasing as the storm tracks inland and loses some energy.

The Bureau of Meteorology, Western Australia says Cyclone Ilsa has already sustained a wind speed record of 135pmh at Bedout Island

What level of damage and disruption could be caused? Australia's Department of Fire and Emergency services has issued a 'red alert' to be in place along a huge swathe of the coastline - this is an emergency warning meaning a threat to lives or homes, high danger and immediate action required to survive.

The cyclone will be very destructive with widespread fallen trees, to damage to infrastructure - but it is a relatively sparsely populated area.

Together with damaging winds, around 300mm (12inches) of rain is expected. This will lead to a risk of flooding and the coast will be prone to a storm surge from high waves.

How does this compare to previous Australian cyclones? The last major cyclone of similar size and strength to impact Western Australia was Cyclone George in 2007, with winds of 170mph.

Australia's biggest storm to date was just one year earlier in 2006 - Cyclone Monica had winds of 180mph and affected the north and eastern side of the country.

What path is the cyclone on after it leaves Australia? Once the cyclone makes landfall it will journey inland tomorrow, gradually losing its high impact energy and intensity. It will be giving typical storm/low pressure conditions such as strong winds and heavy rain.

What is the difference between a cyclone, a hurricane and a typhoon? All are intense and powerful storm/low pressure systems and their name is determined depending on where they are formed.

Cyclones develop over the South Pacific and Indian Ocean. Hurricanes develop over the Northern Atlantic, central Northern Pacific and eastern North Pacific. Typhoons develop in the north-west Pacific.

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