Weather News

Rush to protect Port Beach buildings on verge of collapse as storm approaches Perth

By Irena Ceranic and Evan Morgan Grahame, Thursday June 27, 2019 - 15:33 EST
ABC image
Heavy machinery brings in boulders to reinforce Port Beach ahead of approaching stormy weather. - ABC

The City of Fremantle has scrambled to erect a rock barrier at battered Port Beach to protect buildings left on the brink of collapse from a series of storms, as yet another strong front barrels into Western Australia.

A series of powerful cold fronts this month , threatening infrastructure including the Coast restaurant, change rooms and the Fremantle Surf Club annex.

"The issue came to a head with the last major storm event, which caused the high tide," Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt said.

"All the dune that had been protecting those buildings was taken out in that storm … there was no natural protection left anymore."

The barrier has been comprised of boulders sitting atop geo-textile fabric, but Dr Pettitt conceded it was only an interim solution.

"There's no doubt that what we've put in will be sufficient, in terms of protecting those buildings, for the next couple of years," he said.

"To be honest with you though, it's not a satisfactory outcome, because we don't want a series of boulders and those kinds of things along what should be a sand beach."

The council now intended to work out a long term plan with the State Government for an issue Dr Pettitt said was not going away.

"This is not just a unique Fremantle problem," he said.

"This is a problem that we're going to see up and down the West Australian coast and one that is going to need some very creative thinking, but also major infrastructure investment if we're going to have beaches into the future."

Thunderstorms, damaging winds, hail on the way

South-western parts of WA have been hammered by a series of strong cold fronts in recent weeks, with the latest moving through on Wednesday afternoon.

The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) has issued a severe weather warning for an area extending south-west of a line from Yanchep to Albany, including the Perth metropolitan area.

"We'll get a period of rain as [the front] moves through, potentially some thunderstorm activity as well," BOM spokesman Neil Bennett said.

"Then once that front has passed through overnight, there'll be a pool of cold air behind it and that could also produce some squally thunderstorms, potentially some hail as well — some pea-sized hail that is typical for winter."

Mr Bennett said people should take the necessary precautions to protect their property.

"It is not anything out of the ordinary but it will bring with it the potential for some damaging gusts up to 100 kilometres per hour, so people do need to be aware that, with the severe weather warning, that there is that possibility of some damage to homes and property.

"Also the rising swell and the gale-force winds could result in further damaging surf conditions, which may lead to yet more significant beach erosion."

Great Southern braces for snow

Perth's official gauge in Mt Lawley has already collected 181 millimetres of rain this month, far exceeding its 25-year average of 124.5mm.

But this total is tipped to increase substantially by the end of the month.

"… If we get only another 6mm, which is highly likely … that will then make it the wettest month, not just June, since June 2005," Mr Bennett said.

As the storm passes, leaving cool air behind it, a dusting of snow could fall over the Stirling Ranges in the Great Southern.

"We may well see temperatures cold enough to produce some light flurries, but we have to see the showers actually penetrating that far inland and there's some question as to whether that may occur on Friday, but it's not beyond the realms of possibility," Mr Bennett said.

The BOM warns enthusiastic hikers who are considering making the trek up to Bluff Knoll, to take safety precautions.

"If you are to go, be prepared for some unpleasant conditions — squally winds, cold temperatures — so make sure you are dressed accordingly and let people know that you are out and about because the conditions are not very nice to be out in the open air, especially on the higher ground through the Stirlings and the Porongurups," Mr Bennett said.

Perth forecast
Thursday: Showers, possible storm. Possible rainfall 10–25mm, 11–17
Friday: Possible morning storm, showers. Possible rainfall 3–8mm, 7–17
Saturday: Shower or two. Possible rainfall 1–2mm, 7–18
Sunday: Showers. Possible rainfall 4–10mm, 10–18
Monday: Shower or two. Possible rainfall 2–5mm, 10–18
Tuesday: Partly cloudy, 7–19


© ABC 2019

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