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Unusually wild, wintry weather hits WA's south-west as cyclone possible in the north

By Irena Ceranic, Wednesday January 23, 2019 - 15:57 EDT
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Forecasters are predicting heavy rain across south-west WA on Wednesday. - ABC licensed

A dose of wild, wintry weather has struck WA's south-west as it brims with holidaymakers hoping to make the most of the region's idyllic beaches and campsites.

After a string of typical summer days in the region, a developing low pressure system is bringing a cool change, heavy rain and damaging winds, with gusts of up to 90 kilometres per hour possible today.

"This weather is very unusual for this time of year," Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) senior forecaster Adam Conroy said.

"It's more typical of a strong winter storm, so it's pretty rare to get one of these systems developing in January.

"This sort of weather will be quite wintry and windy, so given that a lot of people would be out having their summer holidays it's important that they listen to the warnings."

A severe weather warning has been issued covering an area including Albany, Bunbury, Busselton, Katanning, Margaret River and Dunsborough.

"The risk is anywhere south-west of a line from Harvey across to Katanning and down to Bremer Bay," Mr Conroy said.

"The worst of the winds should start to develop around the south-west capes early on Wednesday morning … so the worst of the weather will happen during the morning and afternoon [on Wednesday].

BOM figures show wind gusts at Cape Naturaliste reached 104kph at 9:00am, and 87kph at Busselton Jetty around 9:10am.

The low pressure system is also delivering record rainfall in some areas.

A new January daily rainfall record of 57mm has been set in Cape Leeuwin, where the previous record of 54.9mm was set in 2017.

Witchcliffe received 41.4mm, a significant increase on the previous January record of 27.8mm in 2007.

Weather easing by Thursday

Damaging surf conditions are also likely which could cause significant beach erosion between Bunbury and Walpole.

Conditions are expected to ease by early tomorrow morning.

Perth has escaped the worst of the weather but has still been dealt a wet, cool change.

Showers and windy conditions are forecast for today, with the maximum temperature expected to reach just 21 degrees Celsius, well below January's average maximum of 31.2C.

Showers should clear tomorrow, with a sunny weekend in store and a top of 30C for Australia Day on Saturday.

Cyclone a significant risk

Meanwhile, in the north of the state, forecasters are keeping a close eye on a tropical low that is expected to turn into WA's first cyclone of the season by the weekend.

The low is currently situated north of Kimberley coast, but Mr Conroy said the most likely time for it to develop into a cyclone was from late on Thursday.

"At this stage, at least in the short term, it will most likely stay off the [Kimberley] coast," he said.

"However, we will still see an increase in winds and rain potentially on the north-west Kimberley coast over the next couple of days, and beyond that we will be tracking it as it is moving, most likely off the Pilbara coast."

The BOM said there was a "small risk" the system could cross the west Pilbara coast late in the weekend.

The potential cyclone comes after .

The tropical low has already dumped more than 123mm of rain on Troughton Island off the Kimberley coast, making it the wettest day there since 260.6mm fell on March 14, 2012.

Perth weather forecast:
Wednesday: Showers and windy, 21
Thursday: Shower or two clearing, 15-23
Friday: Sunny, 12-26
Saturday: Sunny, 14-30
Sunday: Sunny, 16-33
Monday: Sunny, 20-35
Tuesday: Sunny, 20-33


© ABC 2019

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