Search for Cleo Smith: Wild weather including heavy rain and winds hamper desperate effort at the Blowholes

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Sarah StegerThe West Australian
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VideoWA Police Inspector Jon Munday speaks to Sunrise as the search for four-year-old Cleo Smith enters its fourth day

The desperate search for Cleo Smith is on hold as wild conditions hamper the search for the missing four-year-old.

Wind gusts of up to 75km/h and heavy rainfall are wreaking havoc in the Carnarvon area, making the search for the little girl almost impossible.

The search has been temporarily rained off as an unseasonable cold front hits the Blowholes area, where Cleo went missing from the tent she was staying in with her family.

As the major land and air operation tasked with finding little Cleo enters its fourth day, WA Police Insp. Jon Munday said crews were hoping the conditions would lift so the search could continue.

Cleo Smith has been missing since Saturday morning.
Camera IconCleo Smith has been missing since Saturday morning. Credit: Facebook/Ellie Smith

“This is a real spanner in the works, the weather, and we’re just hoping it blows over up here so we can get back on the ground and get into it,” he told 6PR.

“We’re really restricted at the moment, it really is quite windy here, we can’t get up in the air up here.”

The frustrating turn in weather, triggered by a strong cold front moving across the WA coast, is expected to continue throughout the morning.

The Bureau of Meteorology has forecast heavy rain and strong winds to ease by the late afternoon, with milder conditions to stay overnight and into tomorrow.

“These types of systems aren’t unusual for winter, but for this time of year it’s quite unusual,” BoM forecaster Bob Tarr said. “It’s a winter-time front coming in the middle of spring.”

Cleo was wearing the pyjamas pictured when she disappeared.
Camera IconCleo was wearing the pyjamas pictured when she disappeared. Credit: facebook/supplied

The Carnarvon area has recorded 6mm of rainfall since 5am. The strongest wind gust recorded by 9am was 75km/h, with average winds topping 50km/h.

“It will be raining through much of the morning, and then easing early afternoon and blearing by late afternoon,” Mr Tarr said.

“Conditions will definitelly be improving later on.”

Temperatures today and tomorrow are also forecast to be cooler than normal for October, with today’s maximum estimated at 22C degrees, and tomorrow’s at 23C.

“It’s unseasonable for this time of year,” Mr Tarr said.

Wild weather conditions have hampered the search this morning.
Camera IconWild weather conditions have hampered the search this morning. Credit: Phoebe Pin/The West Australian

Insp. Munday said Cleo’s disappearance was “really really concerning”, and described the complex case with many moving parts as “a mystery we’re trying to unravel”.

It came after he revealed there were “quite a lot of people” at the Blowholes campground the night Cleo went missing.

“We’re tracking and tracing all of those people at the moment, but there’s also nothing to indicate that there’s any cause for the winder community to be alarmed,” he said.

“But it is just really really concerning.

“Hopefully we can get some answers.”

It came after Insp. Munday confirmed police had interviewed Cleo’s biological father Daniel Staines at the Mandurah Police Station yesterday, where he willingly provided a statement to officers.

There is no suggestion he is involved in Cleo's disappearance.

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