Weather News

Homes damaged, thousands without power as ex-Tropical Cyclone Mangga impacts WA coast

By Nicolas Perpitch, Evelyn Manfield, Gian De Poloni and Cecile O'Connor, Monday May 25, 2020 - 07:38 EST
ABC licensed image
Dust churned up by the storm turned the sky orange over Geraldton's Back Beach, in WA's Mid West. - ABC licensed

More than 60,000 homes and businesses are without power across Western Australia as a severe storm tracks down the coast, bringing wind gusts of more than 100 kilometres per hour.

In the Perth metropolitan area, about 44,000 homes and businesses lost power.

Some 13,000 of the affected properties were in WA's Mid West region, including the port city of Geraldton.

The entire town of Margaret River lost power as the storm moved further south.

The worst-affected suburbs include Beckenham, East Cannington, Kenwick, Bayswater, Bassendean, Mirrabooka, Dianella, and Malaga, along with the hills suburbs of Sawyers Valley and Mount Helena.

Western Power said some households should expect to remain without electricity overnight, particularly in places where it was not safe for crews to repair the network.

More than 300 storm-related calls for assistance were made to emergency services across the west coast from Kalbarri to Margaret River.

Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) WA manager James Ashley said the weather formation was "dynamic and complex", as a system from ex-Tropical Cyclone Mangga interacted with a cold front.

Perth and South West to be 'hit severely'

A deep low pressure system formed off the south-west corner of the state on Sunday.

The worst of the weather was due to hit Perth on Sunday evening and Monday morning, and not ease until the afternoon.

"In a broad area, the south-west of the state will be hit really severely overnight, tonight and into tomorrow," the bureau's James Ashley said on Sunday.

"Really quite severe conditions will still be experienced in Perth tomorrow (Monday) morning.

"But in small pockets up in the north of the state they are still likely to experience those 130 kilometre per hour [winds], those really severe conditions.

"I should emphasise it's pretty much the whole western half of the state that's getting strong northerly winds at the moment.

"We're seeing dust, there's going to be heavy rainfall, so it's impacting a really broad area."

There were reports of damage to buildings, homes, fences, electricity infrastructure and trees across Perth and the Mid West as the storm front moved south.

Geraldton couple Bronson Cox and Sharree Williams were left shaken after large tree branches fell on their moving car while they were in it.

"Suddenly the glass was all broken and there was a branch near my face, so a bit of a fright," Ms Williams said.

Emergency services, which were expecting hundreds of calls for assistance during the night, advised people to stay inside wherever possible during the storm.

The storm was expected to push up tides by half a metre more than normal. When that combines with the high tide, the bureau says, it could cause localised flooding.

Waves are forecast to peak at more than 8 metres on Monday, and surfers, kite boarders and other ocean users are being told to stay out of the water.

"They should not be there, it's dangerous coastal conditions," Department of Fire and Emergency Services' (DFES) Danny Mosconi said, adding those going into the water would put their lives and the lives of marine rescue teams at risk.

"There could be 8-metre waves, strong winds, so definitely no-one should be in the water at the moment."

People who had gone away for the weekend were urged to come home early to avoid being caught in the storm.

Main Roads director of metropolitan operations Peter Sewell said many people had heeded that warning.

But traffic on the Albany, South West and Forrest highways was still heavy on Sunday morning, with debris starting to appear on the roads.

"Our advice to the travellers, that if you're in the South West still, stay there," Mr Sewell said.

"As we've heard, the weather is going to be fairly catastrophic, so the last thing emergency services want to do is attend traffic accidents on the freeway network."

Dozens of traffic light-controlled intersections lost power across Perth on Sunday.

The DFES was also advising people not to go on roofs to clear gutters or perform other work, saying they should instead wait inside for conditions to improve.

Dust storm hits Mid West

Dust from the storm blanketed parts of WA's Mid West coast, including Geraldton, with strong winds bringing power lines down.

Port Denison, Dongara, Cape Burney and Greenough, along with Kalbarri, were among the worst-affected areas.

The strongest gust of wind recorded on Sunday was in Gooseberry Hill in Perth's hills just after 3:30pm.

A wind gust of 113kph was recorded in Geraldton just before 1:30pm, while a gust of 102kph was recorded about the same time near Dunsborough, almost 700 kilometres south.

"All this wind is picking up the dust through parts of the Gascoyne and the Central West, but the rain should increase in the coming hours so hopefully that will dampen that down," BOM forecaster Jessica Lingard said.

A total fire ban remains in place for the entire state south of Carnarvon.

In the past 24 hours, five 'watch and act' alerts were issued for fires, including in the Mid West and greater Perth area.


© ABC 2020

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