Residents have been warned to prepare for dangerous weather as a cyclone intensifies off Western Australia's north coast.

Tropical Cyclone Rusty is expected to bring gales late on Sunday or early on Monday as it tracks towards the coast, followed by very heavy rain on Tuesday and Wednesday.

A blue alert for dangerous weather has been issued for coastal communities from Broome to Whim Creek, including areas around Port Hedland, Wallal and Broome.

At 2pm (WST) on Sunday, the category one cyclone was estimated to be 350km north of Port Hedland and 435km west of Broome, moving south at 8km/h, the Bureau of Meteorology said.

It will continue to intensify on Monday and there is a high risk that it will cross the coast as a severe tropical cyclone on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Tropical Cyclone Rusty is large and expected to move more slowly than usual, resulting in higher than normal rainfall, the bureau says.

Widespread very heavy rainfall is expected on Tuesday and Wednesday and is likely to lead to major flooding in the De Grey catchment and in the Fortescue.

Residents have been warned to review their family cyclone plan and organise an emergency kit which should contain a portable battery-operated radio, torch, spare batteries and first aid kit.

Port Hedland Port Authority spokesman Steed Farrell said the port was already experiencing gusts in excess of gale force and evacuations were well underway.

"We expect the port to be officially closed early tomorrow morning when the last vessel clears port limits," he said.


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