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
Details of cyclone movements are also available by telephoning 1300 659 210 or faxing 1902 935 297. Web page: www.bom.gov.au
Road Conditions - The number to call in the Pilbara is 1800 013 314. Main Roads - WA maintains a website at: www.mainroads.wa.gov.au
FESA - Other information and links to additional site are available on the Fire and Emergency Services Website: www.fesa.wa.gov.au
Emergency Management Australia - Information about preparing for cyclones is available at: www.ema.gov.au

Cyclone Alerts

Blue Alert: GET READY

A cyclone has formed and may affect the area within 48 hours. Check that all preparation activities have been undertaken

  • Clear your area/yard of all loose material and rubbish
  • Check that cyclone screens are available or securely fitted in place
  • Ensure emergency supplies and evacuation kit are to hand
  • Check that caravan, boat, trailer and other cyclone tiedown equipment is available and tied down
  • Observe economy in the use of water.

Yellow Alert: Action

There is a significant risk that destructive winds will occur in your area and you should take action

  • Continue to listen to radio, television and/or internet www.bom.gov.au for announcements on the cyclone’s progress.
  • Prepare to move rapidly to the strongest part of your house or closest welfare centre, if required.
  • Know the whereabouts of your family members and pets. You may consider sheltering pets early.
  • Ensure emergency supplies are in order as identified in Blue Alert.
  • Fill emergency containers with water.
  • If you are prepared and have time check on and assist your neighbours

Red Alert: Shelter

Destructive winds are likely to occur very soon and you should move immediately to shelter.

  • Continuously listen to portable radio for announcements on the cyclone’s progress.
  • Go immediately to the strongest part of the house or closest welfare centre.
  • Stay away from doors and windows, keep them closed and locked
  • Ensure that pets and animals are safely sheltered.
  • Park vehicles in the most sheltered area available with handbrake applied and in gear or shift in park position.
  • Keep your emergency kit near you
  • Stay inside until the all clear is given

All Clear: With Caution

The wind and storm surge danger has passed, although ground hazards may still exist.

  • Check whereabouts of pets and animals
  • Continue to listen to radio/television for public information announcements.
  • Only proceed outside with caution.
  • Check for ground hazards such as downed power lines, fallen trees, broken water and sewage lines, loose roof sheeting and debris.
  • Check to see if neighbours are all right.
  • Report any injuries or dangerous situations to State Emergency Service. 132500
  • For life threatening emergencies dial 000
  • Commence clean up of immediate area. Stack debris clear of water meters, valves and telephone lines
  • Avoid using the telephone, except in emergencies

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