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Severe weather warning issued as destructive cold front hits southern WA

By James Carmody and Irena Ceranic, Thursday May 24, 2018 - 23:06 EST
ABC licensed image
A map showing the area of WA's South West likely to be impacted by a storm over the coming days. - ABC licensed

Heavy rain has soaked Perth and surrounds as the first strong cold front of the season batters the southern half of the state, with damaging winds of up to 125 kilometres per hour predicted overnight.



Coastal areas from Kalbarri through to Walpole, including Perth, have seen heavy rain on Thursday evening as the system moves through.

The Murchison region through to Cunderdin and as far south as Albany are expected to also receive a drenching overnight.

Main Roads has issued a storm alert for the Kwinana and Mitchell freeways in Perth, advising drivers to use extreme caution in the wet conditions.

Traffic lights have lost power in a number of locations across the city.



Main Roads has urged drivers to switch on headlights, ensure a safe braking distance and consider postponing unnecessary travel.

The Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) warned the winds could cause significant damage or destruction to homes and property, particularly along the coast south of Jurien Bay.

Higher-than-normal tides could also cause flooding in low-lying coastal areas south of Kalbarri and particularly in the Geographe Bay area, encompassing Busselton through to Dunsborough.

The agency said people in the southwest of WA typically experience a front as windy as this about five times per year.

Emergency services under strain

DFES Superintendent Jon Broomhall urged people to check whether they can fix any potential damage to their properties before calling emergency services, who have spent the week searching for missing Perth man Ian Collett.

"In terms of the SES this week, they have had a very busy tempo with the search assisting the police and their fatigue levels are high, so we ask you to ensure that the SES aren't used unnecessarily," Mr Broomehall said.

"They're there, and they're ready and they're prepared to assist but they've had a very busy week."

Mr Broomhall said to alleviate the pressure on emergency service, people should ensure they clear their gutters, check their downpipes and secure any loose object around their homes.



Western Power said the gale-force winds could carry debris through the air or blow down trees which could tear down power lines, creating outages and safety hazards.



Technicians are on standby for any urgent repairs that might be needed through their network from Geraldton through to Albany, including Perth.

West coast to cop brunt

Rainfall along the coast is expected to reach between 25-50 millimetres, with isolated falls of up to 80mm.

Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) duty forecaster Mark Paull said the rain would be welcomed by some farmers in western agricultural regions following a recent dry spell.

He said farmers in the central South West could also expect 15-30mm and up to 50mm in some parts, but by the time the front reaches eastern agricultural areas and the far south coast, it was expected to drop to between 1-5mm.



"The west coast is going to see the strongest front and the strongest squalls as well," Mr Paull said.

"As the front heads inland it will decay pretty rapidly, so the falls will lighten off, and by the time it hits the eastern agricultural areas they're probably going to be fairly light.

"Any rainfall is good, but unfortunately there's going to be quite a bit of wind associated with this, and those guys that are in the eastern district will probably see more wind than rain."

Mr Murray said while strongest weather would come this evening, more wintry conditions could be expected over the coming days.

"We end up with a westerly stream behind it, so we're still going to see further showers and potentially thunderstorms with the cold air behind that front," he said.

"But predominantly the heavier falls with those would probably be mostly about western and southern coastal districts.

"There is another weaker frontal system moving through on Sunday, but the falls associated with that won't be anywhere near as strong as the first front that comes through later this evening."


- ABC

© ABC 2018

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