SYDNEY (Reuters) - Residents of the Cocos Keeling Islands, a remote Australian territory northwest of the mainland, are bracing for possible winds gusting up to 150 kph (90 mph) from a cyclone due to pass near the islands on Thursday.
The Australian Bureau of Meteorology said tropical cyclone Kate, a category one cyclone, was intensifying as it approached the islands. The storm was expected to pass by late on Christmas Day and through Boxing Day.
"As the system approaches the Cocos Keeling Islands, seas will become rough with the possibility of flooding of low-lying areas and strong currents in the lagoon," the Bureau of Meteorology warned. "Rain is expected to be heavy at times."
"People need to prepare for cyclonic weather and organize an emergency kit, including a first aid kit, torch, portable radio, spare batteries, food and water," it added.
Comprised of 27 coral islands, Cocos Keeling is home to around 600 people.
In its latest update the bureau said the cyclone was around 150 km north northeast of Cocos Island, a coral atoll 2,750 kilometers northwest of Perth, Western Australia, and moving west at 9 km per hour.
Category one is the weakest category on the one-to-five ranking system of cyclones.
(Reporting By Jane Wardell; Editing by Jeremy Laurence)