Dangerous winds pummel Perth, SW

The West Australian

UPDATE 7am: Perth and the South West have been pummelled overnight as a strong cold front moves across the region and another is forecast for tonight.

Wind gusts of nearly 150km/h were recorded and since 11pm SES volunteers have responded to 52 calls for help from residents in Mandurah, Bunbury, Busselton and the metropolitan area. Stirling was among the worst hit in Perth, with eight callouts, while Busselton felt the front's fury with 17 residents needing help.

There are also reports of fallen trees across main roads, including several on Caves Road, South West Highway, Bussell Highway and Coalfields Highway. Main Roads warns a tree has blocked Marmion Ave near Reid Highway in Karrinyup.

Flooding has forced the closure of a northbound lane of the Kwinana Freeway before South Terrace in Como.

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Power outages are widespread and traffic signals are affected across Perth. Western Power has confirmed about 20,000 customers are without electricity, predominantly in areas around Manjimup, Busselton, Augusta and Bunbury.

A Western Power spokeswoman said crews were working to identify a transmission fault which was affecting 5000 customers around Manjimup and Bridgetown. Only about 400 customers are without power in Perth.

A severe weather warning remains in place for people between Perth and Israelite Bay. This includes York, Bunbury, Busselton, Margaret River, Bridgetown, Narrogin, Katanning, Albany, Esperance, Mandurah and the Perth metropolitan area.

According to the Weather Bureau, the deep low and associated "very strong cold front" will move over the south-west of the State early this morning, producing a prolonged period of very windy conditions.

The cold front, described as producing dangerous weather "that is only seen once every 3-4 years" in WA's south-west, is likely to cause widespread dangerous winds in excess of 125km/h that could result in significant damage to property," the Bureau said. "Dangerous winds are likely south of a line from Jurien Bay to Southern Cross to Norseman to Israelite Bay between 2am to 8am Monday, and then contract to an area south of a line Walpole to Southern Cross to Norseman to Israelite Bay between 8am to midday Monday."

Earlier this morning the Weather Bureau warned of another storm front tonight and tomorrow morning.

Residents between Walpole, Northam, Southern Cross, Norseman and Israelite Bay, including people in York. Narrogin, Katanning, Albany and Esperance, should prepare for bad weather and destructive winds. This does not include Perth metropolitan, Mandurah, Bunbury and Margaret River.

"This cold front is likely to cause widespread damaging winds to 100km/h that could result in damage to homes and property," the bureau says. "Damaging winds are likely to develop south of a line Bunbury to Bremer Bay between 8pm Monday and 2am Tuesday and extend to south of a line Bunbury to Narrogin to Israelite Bay between 2am and 8am Tuesday."

Conditions should ease late tomorrow morning.

Dangerous surf conditions are likely to cause significant beach erosion.

Residents in these areas should close curtains and blinds and stay inside away from windows; If caught outside find safe shelter away from trees, powerlines, storm water drains and streams; Unplug electrical appliances and avoid using landline telephones if there is lightning; If there is flooding, create your own sandbags by using pillow cases filled with sand and place them around doorways to protect your home.

Overnight, wind gusts of 146km/h were reported at Cape Leeuwin at 11pm, 117km/h at Cape Naturaliste at 12am, 111km/h at Busselton Jetty at 12.30am and 102km/h at Rottnest Island at 11.30pm.

The highest rainfall overnight was 44mm in Collie. Perth has recorded just 5mm.

The overnight storm followed a wild day as wind gusts peeled roofs off houses and apartment blocks.

Yesterday at least 15 homes on Ellamere Retreat in Maddington were badly damaged. Firefighters and State Emergency Service volunteers responded to more than 88 calls for help, including at least 30 in the Gosnells and Maddington area.

Weather Bureau duty forecaster Darryl Vink said Maddington was on the leading edge of the front that went through and it was “very probable” the suburb was hit by a tornado.

“We’ve spoken to FESA who have been down there and the SES who have been down there helping people but we haven’t actually officially confirmed that it’s a tornado, but that’s what it’s looking like,” Mr Vink said.

Volunteers were joined by structural engineers at two apartment blocks on Great Eastern Highway in Rivervale and on Canning Highway in Applecross when the buildings’ tin roofs were torn off.

Rottnest ferries were cancelled yesterday because of the conditions.

If your home has been badly damaged by a storm call the SES on 132 500. In a life threatening situation call 000.

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