Cyclone Information

Natural Disasters

For further information on your local counter disaster plan or any advice on cyclones and storms, floods and earthquakes, contact the State Emergency Service on 9175 1686.

The WA State Emergency Service is the hazard management agency for tropical cyclones in Western Australia. The SES is a group of volunteers who offer their services to the community in
times of natural or man made disasters. All members are highly trained and prepared for the various emergencies with which they may become involved. The Unit is always seeking new members and enquiries are welcome.

Cyclones

Tropical cyclones are a seasonally occurring natural hazard that can cause considerable loss of life and material/property damage. The most recent loss of life due to a Cyclone tragically occurred near Port Hedland during TC George in 2007. 

One of the strongest cyclones to ever cross the Western Australian coast was Tropical Cyclone Vance, in March 1999. This caused more damage than most other cyclones, narrowly missing Karratha and Dampier but causing millions of dollars worth of damage to Onslow and Exmouth. Fortunately no lives were lost.

Definition & Occurrence

A tropical cyclone is a circular rotating storm of tropical origin in which the mean wind speed exceeds 63km/h (gale force). Wind speeds in excess of 100 km/h are common by the time a 
cyclone crosses the coast and higher wind speeds frequently occur. Tropical cyclones are very rare outside the cyclone ‘season’ from the beginning of November to the end of April. Once cyclones cross the coast, they tend to decay within 24 to 48 hours and the strong central winds die away. Dangerous flooding can occur as heavy rain falls inland.

Cyclone Threats

Cyclone threatens life and property in three ways:

  1. Fluctuating wind pressure can weaken and possibly cause the collapse of buildings and other structures
  2. Loose objects, such as patio furniture, rubbish bins, dog kennels and building material can become lethal windborne projectiles causing severe structural damage to homes and killing or injuring people in their path
  3. Flooding can result from an abnormal rise in the level of the ocean (storm surge) caused by the cyclone or as a result of heavy rainfall in river catchments.

Cyclone Season Preparation

  • Know your community disaster plan and have a list of useful numbers to hand
  • Prepare a Family Cyclone Plan
  • Check your insurance company for adequate cover
  • Clean your residence or work area of unwanted materials and rubbish
  • Trim trees of excess height and growth to withstand high winds
  • Clear drains of rubbish or obstructions, repair roof, external doors, cyclone shutters and screens
  • Have on hand a stock of emergency supplies, e.g.: first aid kit, candle or torches, batteries for your portable radio, canned food (& opener), drinking water, warm clothes, containers, portable stove or BBQ, etc.
  • Find out where your local evacuation and welfare centres are.
  • Decide where best to shelter your pets
  • Determine location and establish cyclone tie-down areas for caravans, boats, trailers, etc

Upon a Cyclone Warning

  • Listen to your local radio/TV station for further warning
  • Batten down houses – secure doors, board, tape or paper paste windows
  • Store loose items inside, place documents, photo’s valuables and clothing in plastic bags
  • Lock up pets, fill water containers, fuel car and place undercover. Then remain indoors.
  • Prepare an EVACUATION KIT, consisting of your EMERGENCY KIT plus warm tough clothing, personal essentials and valuables in plastic bags.

When the Cyclone Strikes

  • Disconnect all electrical appliances
  • Stay inside and shelter well clear of windows in the strongest parts of your house, either bathroom, toilet or passage ways
  • Listen to your portable radio for cyclone updates
  • If your house starts to break up, protect yourself with mattresses, rugs, blankets or tarpaulins
  • Anchor yourself to a strong fixture or get under a strong table or bed
  • BEWARE of the calm ‘eye’. Don’t assume the cyclone is over – if a calm period is due to the ‘eye’ violent winds will resume from the opposite direction
  • If driving, stop clear of trees, power lines and streams

After the Cyclone

  • Don’t go outside until advised officially that it is safe, there may still be high winds and heavy rain
  • Listen to local radio for official warnings and advice
  • If you had to evacuate, don’t go home until advised and use route recommended and stay calm
  • Advise your Local Police Station of your whereabouts and time expected to return to your normal residence (If possible)
  • Don’t make unnecessary phone calls
  • Beware of fallen power lines, damaged buildings, trees and flooded water courses
  • Don’t ignore warnings and don’t go sight-seeing
  • Report dangerous situations and injuries to the authorities

Cyclone Watch Messages

Cyclone Watch Messages are released every 6 hours when there is a possibility that a cyclone may produce gale force winds on the coast within the next 24 to 48 hours.

Cyclone Warning Messages

Cyclone Warnings are released every three hours when there is a possibility of gales occurring in coastal areas within the next 24 hours. The warnings contain details of the position and movement of the cyclone as well as the coastal areas under threat.

Cyclone Warning messages are issued at 7am, 10am, 1pm, 4pm, 7pm and 10pm. Hourly messages are issued when a cyclone is threatening population centres.

Broadcast Schedules

During a cyclone, the Watch or Warning messages are broadcast according to the following schedule:

ABC Regional Network - 15 min past the hour of issue
North West Radio - 30 min past the hour of issue
TV stations - report on the TV screen

Cyclone Alerts

BLUE ALERT: A CYCLONE IS FORECAST - GET READY

When a BLUE ALERT has been issued, you need to start preparing.

  • Keep up to date with the development of the cyclone through radio, television or Internet.
  • Find out when shops and businesses will close, and when to collect your children from school.
  • Secure or remove loose material and rubbish from around your home or work.
  • Organise your emergency kit including first aid kit, essential medications, torch, portable radio, spare batteries, food and water.
  • Consider relocating people with special needs including people who are pregnant, elderly or have disabilities.
  • Identify the strongest part of your house or closest welfare centre.
  • Ensure you have adequate tie down materials or anchor points for loose items.
  • Organise a gas barbeque or portable stove to use outside in a dry, ventilated area, in case electricity is cut.
  • Identify a safe place for your pet(s) (most welfare centres do not accept pets, but do accept guide dogs).
  • Remind your family of cyclone procedures.

YELLOW ALERT: A CYCLONE IS COMING - ACT NOW

When a YELLOW ALERT has been issued, you need to take action.

  • Monitor the radio, television or Internet for information on the cyclone's progress, particularly any storm surge advice.
  • Know where your family and pets are located. Consider sheltering pets early.
  • Secure boats, caravans, trailers, garden sheds, rainwater tanks and LPG bottles to tie down points.
  • Store or secure other loose items like outdoor furniture that is likely to be thrown about by destructive winds.
  • Be aware that shops will now be closing.
  • Obtain cash as banking services may not be available.
  • Put fuel in your vehicle and park it in a sheltered area with the handbrake on and in park or first gear.
  • Ensure your emergency kit is complete and fill emergency containers with water.
  • Make sure your neighbours have received this warning. If you are ready and they need help, give them a hand.
  • Fasten all cyclone screens. Board up or heavily tape exposed windows. Close curtains and lock doors.
  • Pack a relocation kit, including warm clothes. Pack valuables, important papers and photos in waterproof bags. Take them with your emergency kit.
  • Prepare to move quickly to the strongest part of your house or relocate to the nearest welfare centre if required.
  • If you live in a low-lying coastal area and the cyclone is likely to create a storm surge, you may be advised to relocate now. Refer to your family cyclone plan.

RED ALERT: A CYCLONE IS ABOUT TO STRIKE - SHELTER NOW

When a RED ALERT has been issued, you need to take shelter immediately.

  • Keep listening to your portable radio for information on the cyclone's progress.
  • Disconnect electrical appliances and turn off gas supply valves.
  • Ensure that pets and animals are safely sheltered.
  • Go immediately to the strongest, safest part of your house or the building in which you are located (i.e. internal hallway, bathroom or toilet) or go to the closest welfare centre.
  • Keep your emergency kit with you.
  • Take your relocation kit with you if you have been advised to relocate.
  • Stay away from doors and windows, and keep them closed and locked.
  • Stay inside until the ALL CLEAR is given by authorities.

AUTHORITIES GIVE THE ALL CLEAR - BE CAREFUL

After the ALL CLEAR notice, take care to avoid dangers caused by damage.

  • Listen for information and follow the advice from authorities.
  • If you need to go outside, be careful because power lines could be down and there may be fallen trees, broken water and sewage lines, loose roof sheeting and other material.
  • Check to see if your neighbours are safe.
  • Check whereabouts of pets and animals.
  • If your property has sustained serious damage and you need help, call the SES on 132 500 for assistance.
  • For life threatening emergencies, call 000.
  • Avoid telephone use except in emergencies.
  • Start cleaning up around your home - stack loose material clear of water meters, valves and telephone lines.
  • If you relocated from your home, wait for advise before you go back. If returning, take the roads recommended by authorities and do not hurry.

Emergency Kit

An emergency kit is essential for short term survival whether you decide to stay at home or need to relocate to safer accommodation.

GENERAL ITEMS

  • Portable, battery operated AM/FM radio
  • Waterproof torch
  • New, spare batteries
  • First aid kit with manual
  • Medications, toiletries, sanitary supplies
  • Special requirements for infants, elderly, injured, disabled or pets
  • Mobile phone and charger, or phone card
  • Cash, key cars and credit cards
  • Emergency contact numbers
  • Extra car and house keys
  • Combination pocket knife

FOOD AND WATER

  • Drinking water* (at least three (3) litres per person per day for four (4) days)
  • Canned food* (dried food is also a good alternative) to last four (4) days
  • Can opener, cooking gear, eating utensils
  • A portable gas stove or barbeque
  • Water container (for storing washing and cooking water)

* Check and replace food and water every 12 months.

Where to find cyclone information

Police / Fire / Ambulance (life threatening emergencies only) 000
State Emergency Services (SES) 132 500
DFES Public Information Line 13 DFES (13 3337)
DFES Website www.dfes.wa.gov.au
BoM Cyclone Warning Advise Line 1300 659 210
(or fax 1902 935 297)
Weather and cyclone forecasts www.bom.gov.au
Road conditions (Main Roads WA) 138 138
1800 013 314

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