Weather News

Perth weather warning remains in place as heavy rain, destructive winds hammer WA's south-west

By Evelyn Manfield, Keane Bourke and Zachary Bruce, Tuesday July 27, 2021 - 13:31 EST
ABC image
There was a big swell at Cottesloe Beach in Perth as conditions remained hazardous. - ABC

Authorities say at least three homes in Western Australia's south-west have lost their roofs, and thousands more are without power, following heavy rain and destructive winds that could result in Perth's wettest July in more than 60 years.

WA has gone only three days this July without rain and with the wet weather set to continue this week, the Bureau of Meteorology has forecasted that by July's end it would have rained on 28 of 31 days.

A severe weather warning remains in place from Walpole to Israelite Bay and up to Norseman, but the strong and squally winds are set to ease.

Winds were strongest in the south-west, with gusts of 135 kilometres per hour reported at Cape Leeuwin.

Wind speeds peaked at 124 kph at both Cape Naturaliste and on Busselton Jetty, but Perth did not escape the gusts either.

Gusts of more than 85 kph were recorded in a number of suburbs across Perth, including Jandakot, Gooseberry Hill, Mandurah, Ocean Reef and Swanbourne.

The winds were so strong footage showed a tree being blown over on top of a parked car in Joondalup on Monday afternoon, but nobody was inside.

Roof torn off family's Cowaramup home

Monica Sutton of Cowaramup, just north of Margaret River, woke at 1:00am Tuesday morning to howling winds and said her first thought was for her children.

"I just grabbed my partner Sean and just said, 'this is getting a bit scary,' and so I went and grabbed my kids from their rooms and brought them into my bed," she said.

"We thought it was going to settle down, and then at 4:00am we just heard a massive tear and the roof came off ? my kids actually slept through it, so that was a good thing ? it's been pretty traumatic.

"The ceiling is soaked, the kitchen and my son's room are soaked, but the other half of the house, the roof is just hanging on there. The SES came and tied that down this morning, but it's still pretty windy down here.

"My kids are safe, that's all that matters."

The family of four are already on the hunt for a temporary place to live, but Ms Sutton said with the rental crisis as it was, she did not expect to find something straight away.

"I would give it three months at least [until the house is fixed], because it looks like the whole house is a write-off," she said.

The Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) said it had received 250 requests for assistance in the last 24 hours, taking the number of State Emergency Services requests since the start of June to 1,500.

While the damage in Perth was not as severe, authorities said there were still prolonged wind gusts between 90 and 100km/h, with requests for help in Byford, Gosnells and Rockingham.

Thousands without power

Western Power said about 21,000 homes and businesses had been affected by the storm, including 13,000 in the metropolitan area.

Most of those in Perth were in the Rockingham and Mandurah areas.

Around 3,500 properties in the South West and Great Southern lost power, with Walpole and Denmark the hardest hit, and another 4,500 in the Wheatbelt and Midwest have been impacted, including in Kalbarri and Northampton.

The utility warned some repairs may be delayed until the dangerous weather subsides.

"Our priority during the storm is responding to reported hazards to ensure the safety of the community and our crews," a Western Power spokesperson said.

"Repair work will be undertaken when safe, as some of the equipment needed ? cannot be used during dangerous winds.

"Our network operations team is working to isolate damaged parts of the network and backfeed where possible to restore power where it is safe to do so."

Trains disrupted in city's north and south

Perth's public transport network was also affected by the storm, with trains cancelled between Cannington and Armadale.

Public Transport Authority (PTA) spokesman David Hynes told ABC Radio Perth "rubbish" on the overhead lines near Glendalough meant trains were being delayed.

On Tuesday morning he said bus services were also likely to be affected by diversions, fallen trees and localised flooding in some areas.

More bad weather to threaten rain record

Mr Huntington said with the rain that fell overnight, Perth was within range of its all-time rainfall record for July.

"By Thursday there's another strong cold front to move through, and then continuing on Friday as well, so it looks like further damaging winds and further rainfall for the month," he said.

"We just need another 30mm and then we've broken the record for the Perth metro.

"It's quite possible we'll do that later in the week with some more cold fronts moving through."

Records at the Perth gauge go back to 1993, with the highest July rainfall of 278mm recorded in 1995.

Other records, taken elsewhere in Perth, show rainfall as high as 400mm in July 1958.

Given the run of wet days, BoM also expected this July could end up having the second or third highest number of rainy days recorded.


© ABC 2021

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