December 23, 2016 / 3:33 AM / 8 months ago

Australian cyclone downgraded but could rebuild: forecasters

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia's first cyclone of the 2016-2017 summer season has been downgraded to a tropical storm after losing punch over the Indian Ocean, but could reform in the next two days, forecasters said on Friday.

"Ex-cyclone Yvette weakened overnight but may reintensify as it approaches the coast on the weekend," The Australian Bureau of Meteorology said.

The storm was upgraded to a category 1 cyclone, the lowest on a scale of 1-5, on Wednesday after sustained winds were recorded near the center of 75 kmh (45 mph), with wind gusts to 100 kmh (62 mph).

The storm on Friday was located 760 kms (470 miles) from Port Hedland in Western Australia state and is expected to reach the sparsely populated Pilbara iron ore mining and shipping district by Saturday or Sunday, according to the bureau.

The port said it was monitoring the storm's trajectory, as did the region's main employers, BHP Billiton <BLT.L, Fortescue Metals Group and Rio Tinto <RIO.,AX>

Reporting by James Regan; Editing by Michael Perry

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