Police say they have “urgent welfare concerns” for three elderly people and four children who are missing in WA’s flooded outback.

The group, with children aged between seven and 17, left in two cars from Kalgoorlie-Boulder between 10am and 2pm on Sunday, headed to the remote Aboriginal community of Tjuntjuntjara.

The group are from the community, which is located about 600 kilometres north-east of the Goldfields city, with police alerted on Tuesday morning when they failed to arrive home.

In the past 48 hours, hundreds of millimetres of rain has soaked the region, cutting WA’s only sealed road link to South Australia.

The Bureau of Meteorology satellite shows lots of cloud over the middle of WA.(Supplied: BOM)

Meanwhile, flooding is also impacting communities the state’s far north, while a tropical low has caused chaos on Christmas Island with the chance it could intensify into a cyclone in waters north-west of Karratha.

Elderly people, children missing

WA Police Inspector Mick Kelly said the weather conditions have hampered search efforts.

“Concerns are held due to the fact that we have had severe weather and rain and more has been forecast over the next 24 hours and we have been unable to make contact with the occupants,” he said.

The vehicles police are searching for. 

“Our air asset was up this morning and it flew for an hour. Quite simply, the plane can’t see through the clouds and therefore, we were unable to locate them.

“It becomes too dangerous for the pilot.”

Inspector Kelly said it was believed the group was carrying minimal food, with one of the vehicles equipped with water and camping equipment.

Carnegie Station, 350km east of Wiluna, has received about 230mm of rain since Saturday.(Supplied: Jessica Carew)

“We are hopeful that they have remained with the vehicle,” he said.

Police are searching for two vehicles, a 1986 Toyota Landcruiser with licence plates A683, and a white Mitsubishi Triton utility with plates KBC8881.

Paupiyala Tjarutja Aboriginal Corporation CEO Jon Lark said the Tjuntjuntjara community is worried.

“Unfortunately we’ve lost contact with them, and with this extreme, one in a 25-year event really, we know that they’re somewhere in the middle,” he said. 

“The police have been out as far as a place called Zanthus and they had to turn back. We’ve had a car go 120 kilometres from our end and had to turn back.”

Highway shut again

The only sealed link between WA and South Australia, the Eyre Highway, has been shut again after opening for seven hours on Tuesday to allow freight and interstate travellers through.

Authorities earlier warned the highway could be closed for up to five days with more rain forecast.

The Trans-Australian Railway Line is also closed, while in the state’s north, sections of Great Northern Highway have also been closed due to floods.

The deluge is seen from a plane at Prenti Downs Station, 300km east of Wiluna in WA’s remote outback.(Supplied: Jack Carmody)

Western Roads Federation chief executive Cam Dumesny said the industry had been preparing since Friday for the severe weather event. 

“Since COVID and other disruptions the retailers have actually built up stocks in Western Australia,” he said. 

“It’s highly unlikely that people would even notice a disruption in the supermarkets this week.” 

Deputy Premier and Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said an emergency coordination team had been prepared to manage the situation, but that indications were disruptions would not be as severe as in previous years.

Transport Minister Rita Saffioti says an emergency coordination team has been set up.(ABC News: Keane Bourke)

“The feedback from suppliers, and in particular major retailers, is they do have enough stock in place, but … it’s something we’ll watch very closely,” she said.

Australia Post customers have been told to expect delays while the transport arteries remain closed — but express post and deliveries by air will not be affected.

Station to be evacuated

Rawlinna Station, Australia’s largest sheep station, about 400 km east of Kalgoorlie-Boulder, had been inundated with floodwaters.

Rawlinna Station, about 400km east of Kalgoorlie-Boulder, has been cut off by severe flooding. (Facebook: Rawlinna Station)

“We’ve had about 200 millimetres here now and basically everything we have got is underwater,” station manager Jimmy Wood said.

“I was wading waist-deep in my house.”

Mr Wood has spent the morning organising helicopters to evacuate some people from the station.

More rain is forecast across the Eucla district this week with Rawlinna Station already inundated with flood waters.  (Supplied: Facebook/Ross Wood)

“I’ll keep a few guys here just to help clean up in the short term, but we’ve got no freezers, no fridges, no power,” he said. 

The station is forecast to have received another 50mm of rain on Tuesday, a concerning prospect for Mr Wood.

“I don’t turn my back on rain very often, but if it stopped raining right now I’d be pretty happy,” he said.

The first vehicles pass through the road block after the Eyre Highway was reopened at 10am.   (ABC Goldfields: Emily Smith)

Christmas Island battered

Meanwhile, Christmas Island has been battered by strong winds and heavy storms and the worst is yet to come, according to the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM).

Tropical Low 08U is tracking south of the remote island, 2,600 kilometres north-west of Perth, and is expected to continue towards the Pilbara coast.

A tropical low is creating stormy conditions on Christmas Island. (Supplied: Will Parker/WeXploreTravel )

Chris Carr, a resident of Christmas Island for 15 years, said it was a sleepless night for locals.

“It’s absolute chaos here at the moment,” he said.

“Our entertainment area where our skate park, lawn bowls, exercise area, is pretty much demolished.

“There’s big rocks all over the place, fences down, sheds blown onto the lawn bowl area, a whole lot of debris and rocks all over the road.”

Christmas Island is being hit by a tropical low, with big swells and waves leaving roads near the water covered in sand and debris. (Supplied: Will Parker/WeXploreTravel )

Mr Carr said one of the hotels had already been evacuated and the power was tripping hours ahead of the worst of the storm.

He said a large sandbank had built up near accommodation units.

A tropical low has caused huge seas off Christmas Island. (Supplied: Will Parker/WeXploreTravel )

“It’s going to be pretty devastating,” he said.

Photographer Will Parker told the ABC the coastline was being hammered.

“I have never seen seas like this,” he said.

The tropical low is causing havoc on Christmas Island. (Supplied: Will Parker/WeXploreTravel )

“The storm surge against the coast is like moving walls of water hitting against a moveable object and then they just explode up into almost like volcanoes.

“You wouldn’t want this cyclone to be any closer than what it is.”

Cocos Island has also been buffeted by the system, with local police sharing photos on social media of damage to rooves and fences. 

The low is expected to track towards WA.(Supplied: Bureau of Meteorology)

Chance cyclone will form

The BOM said the tropical low could intensify and move closer to WA’s north-west coast. 

It said the storm could turn into a category two tropical cyclone, and there was a 10 per cent chance it would progress to a category three system.

BOM duty forecaster Joey Rawson said it is still unclear whether it would reach the mainland.

“It kind of gets to a T-junction offshore from the Pilbara coast and it could either go south west or it could go easterly,” he told ABC Regional Drive. 

“It’s really hard to determine which one is going to win at this stage.”

What’s causing all the rain?

BOM duty forecaster Jessica Lingard said conditions in the Goldfields were not expected to ease until Wednesday when the trough is likely to move into SA.

Ilkurlka station received 206 mm of rain in the past week, which has caused damage to tracks.(Supplied: Philip Merry)

“It has been near stationary since Saturday … we’re at day four of these really heavy rainfall totals,” she said.

“It’s quite an incredible situation that is going on because we don’t usually see tropical amounts of moisture down in the southern parts of the state.

“This trough is connected back up into the Kimberley district, so it is being fed by tropical moisture which is why it’s raining so much and because it’s stuck, it’s all raining in one spot.

“It’s not moving anywhere and piling up on top of each other.”

Posted , updated