‘Twice a year’ weather event set to bring dangerous, damaging winds


WA residents have been warned to prepare for a cold front so severe it only happens once or twice a year, which is set to bring damaging winds and hail in some coastal areas.

Graziers have been warned that sheep could die if exposed to cold temperatures, showers and strong winds forecast for parts of the South West, South Coastal and Great Southern areas on Tuesday.

Department of Fire and Emergency Services is urging West Australians to be prepared for storms and severe weather as a cold front windier than usual produces the “kind of weather only seen in South West WA about two times a year”.

Locations which may be affected include Albany, Bunbury, Busselton, Katanning, Mandurah, Manjimup, Margaret River, Mount Barker, Narrogin, Northam and Perth.

After rainfall in parts of WA today, the Bureau of Meteorology has forecast a second cold front tomorrow expected to bring damaging winds of up to 100km/h, thunderstorms and small hail in some coastal areas.

At 4pm today, BoM said tomorrow’s rainfall would be the first widespread cool season weather event to affect Perth and South West WA with the front expected to hit late Tuesday, extending into Wednesday.

It said a deep low-pressure system and associated cold front would bring strong, gusty winds and a cold unstable airmass to the Southwest Land Division.

“Gusty showers will develop from Tuesday morning ahead of the system, with isolated thunderstorms developing later in the afternoon and small hail possible about the South West corner from Wednesday morning,” BoM said.

Widespread, damaging winds and locally dangerous winds are expected to develop in western parts of the warning area from late Tuesday afternoon and extend to remaining parts of the warning area by the evening.

Gusts could reach more than 125km/h.

Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner Darren Klemm said residents in southern parts of the State should prepare their homes and properties for the dangerous weather.

“The impact of storms is often underestimated, and hundreds of households across the State are caught off guard every year,” he said.

“If weather permits, clean your gutters and downpipes, secure loose items around your property and remove any overhanging tree branches to help keep your family and home safe.”

Western Power urged people to store loose items, saying up to 80 per cent of outages were caused by wind-borne debris such as chairs, sheds and trampolines.

“With so many people still based at home, it is vitally important that everybody remembers if you see any damage to the network, including falling powerlines, you must stay at least eight metres clear and call us,” a spokesman said.

“One of our emergency response teams will be out there as quickly and as safely as possible.

“Once hazards are taken care of we will move on to restoration of power.”

From May to October every year, storm activity including lightning, hail, flash flooding and gale force winds cause widespread damage across WA.

Mr Klemm said during last year’s storm season, State Emergency Service volunteers attended 575 requests for assistance, and spent over 3,000 hours helping the community with emergency repairs.

“Many of those requests for assistance could have been prevented with simple preparation, so I encourage everyone to prepare for the predicted weather, when it's safe to do so,” he said.

The Department of Fire and Emergency Services advises that people should:

* If outside find safe shelter away from trees, power lines, storm water drains and streams.

* Close your curtains and blinds, and stay inside away from windows.

* Unplug electrical appliances and do not use land line telephones if there is lightning.

* If boating, swimming or surfing leave the water.

* Be alert and watch for hazards on the road such as fallen power lines and loose debris.

* Keep away from flooded drains, rivers, streams and waterways.

* Be careful of fallen trees, damaged buildings and debris.

* Be careful of fallen power lines. They are dangerous and should always be treated as live.

* Assess your home, car and property for damage.

* If damage has occurred take photos and contact your insurance company to organise permanent repairs.

* If your home or property has significant damage, like a badly damaged roof or flooding, call the SES on 132 500.

For more information about how to stay storm safe visit dfes.wa.gov.au/safetyinformation/storm

Keep up-to-date during a storm by visiting emergency.wa.gov.au, calling 13 DFES, following DFES on Facebook and Twitter and listening to ABC and 6PR radio and other news bulletins.

If your home is hit badly by a storm, and without immediate repairs it will result in major damage which can’t be safely fix by yourself or your insurance provider, call the SES for emergency assistance on 132 500.

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