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Cyclone Joyce to cross WA's Kimberley coast as a category one as risk of drenching rain for Perth

By David Weber and James Carmody, Friday January 12, 2018 - 21:35 EDT
ABC licensed image
The only damage in Broome so far: a fallen tree at the Courthouse gardens. - ABC licensed

Cyclone Joyce is expected to fully cross the coast of Western Australia today as a significantly weaker system than predicted.

While the worst danger may be over for the Kimberley, Perth could feel the impact of the weather system next week with up to 50 millimetres of rain forecast to fall if the system tracks towards the city.

The category one storm has moved inland of Eighty Mile Beach, west of Wallal Downs and is expected to weaken over the inland Pilbara bringing heavy rain over the weekend.

Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Craig Earl-Spurr said it was unlikely to reach the previously expected strength of category three.

"It's passed Bidyadanga, but sitting near the coast it means that it hasn't strengthened overnight," he said.

"It's expected to continue moving towards the south-west as a category one, and continue to bring gales to the West Kimberley coast.

"Cyclones need time over water to strengthen, and with the previous forecast of it spending that time over water there was a greater risk of it being a stronger system.

"So the good thing about it getting to the coast a bit sooner is that it has less time to develop and we don't expect to see any impacts greater than a category one".

Bidyadanga escapes the worst



Bidyadanga Police acting Senior Sergeant Jennifer Boyle said Joyce brought minimal damage as it passed by overnight despite concerns in the wake of Cyclone Hilda a fortnight ago.

"It was very wet for most of the night, and the winds definitely came in about midnight, however it was nowhere near as bad as Hilda, I think the community fared pretty well," she said.

"Thanks to our municipal crew doing such a good job of cleaning up after Hilda we've got very little debris and no trees down, though we did have one of the old light poles come down at the pool.

"It's definitely a relief, and it's actually a really beautiful day outside now



There is a yellow alert for people living in areas south of Bidyadanga to Wallal, and a blue alert for south of Wallal to De Grey.

The all clear has been given for people between De Grey and Whim Creek.

Winds at the centre of the cyclone are about 65 kilometres per hour, with gusts of up to 95kph.

The Department of Fire and Emergency Services has closed the Karijini National Park due to forecast heavy rainfall and potential flooding.

People are asked to avoid the popular tourist hotspot, with the closure affecting all recreation areas, campsites and access roads until further notice.



Dry season over

The system has brought welcome rainfall to cattle stations in the Kimberley, dumping over 200mm of rain in just 24 hours on Mandora Station south of Broome.

Station Manager Ben Mills said that considering their average annual rainfall was 350mm, the deluge was enormous.

"This has made a brilliant start to our wet season because we were very dry up until this point," he said.

"In a week or so we'll have green grass for all and it gives us a brilliant base of moisture to keep growing it for the rest of the summer.

"This is our main grass growing period for the year so you couldn't ask for a better outcome."



Drenching could reach Perth

Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Callum Stuart said the next concern was possible flooding.

"I guess the bigger risk is when it moves inland through the eastern Pilbara and into the Gascoyne as well with those river catchments through there, so [we're] certainly looking at a similar rain impact," he said.

And Perth could be in for a drenching early next week — or maybe not.

"Perth will be more like early next week so we might cop a bit of rain later on Sunday and into Monday," Mr Stuart said.

"I don't think they're too concerned about flooding with that, but could be some pretty good falls if the system does track over us.

"However, as we've seen in the last 24 hours, there's still a bit of uncertainty so it could just as easily miss us."

The Bureau has predicted Perth could get up to 35mm on Sunday and up to 70 on Monday.


- ABC

© ABC 2018

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