Western Australia braces for more cyclone-like storms
Wild weather forecast for vast tracts of Western Australia on Tuesday is likely to wreak as much havoc as Sunday’s storms, emergency services predict.
WILD weather forecast for vast tracts of Western Australia on Tuesday is likely to wreak as much havoc as Sunday’s storms, emergency services predict.
A large part of the state’s south is expected to be hit late on Tuesday by winds of about 125km/h, equivalent to a category two cyclone, Bureau of Meteorology spokesman Grahame Reader says.
The area spans from Geraldton in the Mid West region to Southern Cross in the Wheatbelt to Israelite Bay in the Goldfields-Esperance region.
Mr Reader says the initial impact would be in the southwest corner of the state, moving up to Perth during the evening, then peaking at around midnight WST.
The wild weather would begin to ease on Wednesday morning, he says.
It was rare – a once in 10 years event – for Perth to be hit by three major storms in just a few days, he said.
The fourth strongest wind gust on record hit the city on Sunday, clocking 146km/h.
It came three days after a tornado swept through the northern suburbs of Dianella and Morley, damaging homes and businesses, uprooting trees and hurling shopping trolleys through the air.
Sunday’s storm brought down 120 power lines, ripped the roof off a block of units, tore boats free from moorings and even lifted a circus tent from the ground.
Emergency Services Minister Troy Buswell said the storm was unprecedented both in terms of severity and the size of the affected area.
Mr Buswell said at least 10 hospitals lost power during the storm and were forced to use generators.
Several schools had to suspend classes on Monday because of damaged roofs and lack of power.
Mr Buswell said 52 traffic lights were not operating but major intersections were either being manned by police or powered by generators.
“This week shapes to be a difficult week for our state and particular for the southwest in terms of dealing with storms,” Mr Buswell told reporters.
“Preliminary advice is that storm event (on Tuesday) will be as significant as yesterday’s event and may well extend further to the east.”
While electricity utility Western Power earlier on Monday said it could take up to a week to restore power to 100,000 homes, Mr Buswell said he was reluctant to predict how long it would take.
“It is difficult to give an exact end point because at the moment, we can’t predict the impact of tomorrow night’s storm event on the electricity network,” he said.
Power had been restored to more than 50,000 homes since Sunday’s storm struck.
Western Power was focusing on removing dangers – particularly fallen live power lines – before restoring energy supply.
Mr Buswell said damage from Tuesday’s storms could be exacerbated by remaining debris that emergency services workers were currently battling to clear.
The State Emergency Service had received more than 700 requests for assistance, Fire and Emergency Services Authority of WA spokesman Brad Stringer said.
Mr Buswell said it remained to be seen whether Tuesday’s weather would lead to a natural disaster being declared.
Power had been restored to 130,000 homes but another 40,000 customers were still without electricity, a Western Power spokeswoman later said.
Crews would work throughout the night in a bid to reconnect as many of those affected as possible.
More power outages could also be on the way with storms continuing to lash the south west of the state.
A large part of WA’s south is expected to be hit late on Tuesday by winds of about 125km/h, equivalent to a category two cyclone. – AAP
IMAGE: The roof of a block of units torn off after heavy winds in the Perth suburb of Tuart Hill, Monday, June 11, 2012. Heavy rain and winds of up to 140km/h whipped Western Australia’s south-west coast on Sunday, causing unprecedented damage to buildings and the electricity network. (AAP Image/Rebecca Le May)