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In other parts of the world these weather systems are known as hurricanes or typhoons. In Australia they usually occur during the northern monsoon season and develop out at sea before moving towards or along the coastline.


The north west of WA is subject to these violent tropical storms from December to April each year. They are usually named as a cyclone when wind speeds reach a sustained speed of 63 kilometres per hour and gusts in excess on 90 kph.


Due to the sparsely populated coast in the north west, cyclones only rarely cause major damage or loss of life, but when they do strike a populated area they can cause widespread destruction.


Cyclone warnings are issued over the radio whenever a storm looks likely to cross the coast. They are categorised in levels of danger from 1 to 5, 5 being the most dangerous.


If you are in the north west during cyclone season and are unlucky enough to be in the path of a storm, then seek shelter in a solid structure on high but not exposed ground. It is unwise to try and ride out the storm in a caravan.


A category 5 cyclone is a VERY serious storm and must be considered as life threatening. No matter what the category, if you can leave the area safely, do so. If not make sure everything is packed away and tied down. Flying debris is lethal in cyclonic winds.


Make sure you have a cyclone kit - torch, matches, candles, spare drinking water and extra food available. Also it is useful to have a battery operated radio to listen for warnings if the mains power is lost.


If you are near the coast you need to stay away from low lying areas as a storm surge may cause the sea to rise and flood coastal areas unexpectedly.


Although most cyclones strike the north west coast, some do come further south and even Perth can sometimes feel the effects of one that moves along the coast as cyclone Alby did in the late 1970s. Once cyclones cross the coast they can be responsible for wide areas of flooding so travellers can be stranded for days at a time. Between 1883 and 1991 no less than 28 cyclonic storms came south with varying degrees of destructive winds.


As the planet starts to warm up we can expect more frequent and more violent cyclones and the thought of living next to the coast is going to become less and less attractive.


Previous Tropical Cyclones in W.A.


More Information about Cyclones




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