Severe storm lashes vast expanse of west Australian coast
PERTH, Australia (AP) — Tens of thousands of homes and businesses lost power, buildings were battered and trees were uprooted as a vast stretch of the west Australian coast was whipped by a severe storm on Monday for the second straight day.
No casualties were reported from what Acting Assistant Commissioner of Western Australia state’s Department of Fire and Emergency Services Jon Broomhall called a “a once-in-a-decade-type” storm system.
The system that struck an extraordinarily large area was the result of remnants of late-season Cyclone Mangga tracking southeast and colliding in the southern Indian Ocean with a northeast-moving cold front.
The combined weather system lashed a 1,200-kilometer (745-mile) stretch of the west coast from Carnarvon to Cape Leeuwin and including the state capital, Perth, with winds gusting at more than 90 kilometers (56 miles) per hour overnight, Bureau of Meteorology manager Neil Bennett said.
Wind speeds reached 132 kph (82 mph) at Cape Leeuwin, the fastest for the month of May since 2005.
Heavy rains lashed 1,500 kilometers (930 miles) of coastline from the Margaret River winery region in the south to Exmouth in the north. The rain and 8-meter (26-foot) waves caused flooding along the coast and eroded beaches, Bennett said.
“It was really right up and down the coast, including the Perth area, but particularly that southwest area of (Western Australia state) really caught the brunt of this one,” Bennett said of the storm.
The storm was subsiding by Monday afternoon. Up to 65,000 homes and businesses had lost power at the height of the emergency. But power had been restored to all but 24,000 by Monday afternoon, Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan said.
The inland gold mining town of Kalgoorlie lost power to 15,000 homes when winds blew a backyard shed into an electricity substation, Western Power spokesman Paul Entwistle said.
Western Australia is one of the largest states or provinces in the world. The U.S. state of Alaska has less than two-thirds its land area.