Storms savage northern wheatbelt

Trin SucklingThe West Australian

Storms left a wake of destruction and displaced significant numbers of stock in the Alma area of Northampton last week.

Tearing through local property Jib Jib, the storm left a deluge of run-off and tore sheds and their footings from the ground.

Receiving 120mm in 20 minutes, Jib Jib manager Brad Wilson lost three sheds, fence lines and has run-off damage across the farm.

Three weeks out from starting his 2015 seeding program, Mr Wilson's February rainfall equals 2014's growing season total of 200ml.

Mr Wilson is buoyant as he approaches the growing season, despite the large clean-up task ahead.

"We will be clearing gravel off roads, a lot of fences have gone, all our farm tracks are washed out, we will be spending a fair amount of time cleaning them up so we can get fertiliser and chemical in," Mr Wilson said.

"We've lost topsoil in some places; creek beds reclaimed over the past couple of years have now reformed again.

"Weeds are growing well, so we are flat out."

Managing the property for three years, Mr Wilson had not witnessed this kind of rain event and had little expectation of rainfall from last week's forecast.

"We have wondered how creek beds were so deep and noticed debris in trees - strange rock piles around the property now make sense," he said.

Sub-soil moisture levels are high and Mr Wilson has brought forward canola and lupin seeding programs with concerns paddocks will become too wet.

"We've already had a self-propelled boomspray bogged; we will still hold off on wheat and aim to start early May," he said.

The storm cell caused havoc on roads along the Port Gregory road, breaching bridges, closing roads and cutting access to properties.

Meanwhile, 35 of farmer Tren Suckling's sheep perished in the storm and he is still locating misplaced sheep on neighbouring properties.

One farmer lost his Toyota Landcruiser to rising flood waters as he attempted to move sheep from a creek line.

Forecasts were again predicting storms for the Northampton catchment area this week.

Mr Wilson's only wish is this rainfall comes a "little steadier" than the last.

Elsewhere in the Wheatbelt, farmers were rejoicing over rain events recorded on the weekend and at the start of this week. The rain has helped to increase moisture in the soil ahead of seeding.

According to the WA Wheatbelt Rainfall Reports Facebook page, 88mm of rain was recorded north-east of Kalannie and 54mm at South Bodallin.

According to the Bureau of Meteorology, in the week to Tuesday morning, Bencubbin had received 32mm, Southern Cross 45mm, Westonia 38mm and Wialki 36mm.

Around Esperance, 22mm was received, while Salmon Gums recorded 32mm and Munglinup 26mm.

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