/ 13 April 2021

Good riddance to Cyclone Seroja

Western Oz’s mid-west coast has experienced a once-in-50-years cyclone on Sunday night, and the Wheatbelt region through to Esperance on the south coast went through an extremely rare weather event yesterday as the system that was Cyclone Seroja cut diagonally across the state. Worst affected was Kalbarri (population 1,400, 580km north of Perth). Reports say 70% of the town’s homes and buildings experienced damage – 40% are severely damaged. And that’s just the start…

Premier Mark McGowan will inspect the area today. Phone and internet comms across the regions were limited yesterday making it hard to get the full picture, but it’s thought that hundreds of homes and buildings have been destroyed or damaged. Seroja made landfall as a Category 3 cyclone on Sunday night with winds of 170km/hour to devastating effect. Areas to the north, including Carnarvon and Monkey Mia, and inland of Kalbarri were hard hit – the good news is there are no reports of injuries. Seroja was then downgraded in severity as it moved across the state, but it still packed a 75-100km/hour wind speed punch until it departed via the south coast yesterday afternoon. Seroja has been hugely concerning for the state because Category 3 cyclones usually don’t hit the west coast so far south. That means homes and other structures aren’t built to sustain those sorts of winds as they are further north. And winds of that strength aren’t common across that stretch of wheat and sheep farming land either.

A lot of assessment, clean up and rebuilding. The Australian Defence Force will be on the ground today – reports say 40 rapid assessment teams will start arriving to provide support. And if you’re wondering where Seroja came from, meteorologists knew it was trouble when it walked in… It was responsible for the flash flooding that killed more than 220 people in Indonesia and East Timor more than a week ago. And it was in a spin-off with another cyclone last week thanks to the Fujiwhara effect. That’s a lot of death and destruction for something whose name means ‘lotus’ in Indonesian…

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