When a cyclone approaches, you can get information from:
- ABC Radio
- Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) website
- Bureau of Meteorology website
- Sign up to the DFES Alert Line to receive a text message
- Phone the DFES public information line on 1300 657 209
- Phone the BOM’s recorded information line on 1300 659 213
- Or monitor your television for cyclone information along the bottom of the screen.
When should you prepare for Cyclone Season?
Tropical cyclones are a seasonally occurring natural hazard that can cause considerable loss of life and material damage. The cyclone season extends from 1st November to 30 April. You need to ensure that you and your family are prepared prior to the start of the season.
How should you prepare for Cyclone Season?
- Clean your residence or work area of unwanted materials and rubbish.
- Trees of excess height (over 3m) and growth should be trimmed to withstand high winds.
- Prepare your emergency kit. This should include canned and dried food, drinking water, first-aid kit, torches, a portable radio and spare batteries.
- Ensure your family have an emergency plan and know what to do.
- Decide where best to shelter your pets.
- Determine location and establish cyclone tie-down areas for caravans, boats, trailers, etc.
- Ensure you have somewhere to store all outdoor items, including furniture, pot plants and dog/children’s toys if the cyclone alert is activated.
- Become familiar with the four emergency cyclone alerts
- For further preparation information, refer to the DFES website
What is a Cyclone?
A tropical cyclone is a circular rotating storm of tropical origin in which the mean wind speed exceeds 63 km/h (gale force). Gale force is the threshold speed at which a cyclone is named. Wind speeds in excess of 100km/h are common by the time a cyclone crosses the coast and higher wind speeds frequently occur.
Once they cross the coast, cyclones tend to decrease in speed within 24 to 48 hours and the strong central winds die away. However, dangerous flash flooding can still occur as heavy rain falls from the decaying system.
When do cyclones occur?
The ‘cyclone season’ extends from 1st November to 30 April. Tropical cyclones can occur at any time of the year, although it is rare to have one outside of the cyclone season.
What sort of damage can a cyclone do?
Cyclones threaten life and property in 3 ways:
- Fluctuating wind pressure can weaken and possibly cause the collapse of buildings and other structures.
- Loose objects, such as patio furniture, rubbish bins, dog kennels or building material, become lethal wind borne projectiles that can cause severe structural damage to homes and kill or injure people in their path.
- Flooding, due to 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.
Be Cyclone Smart
As cyclones often adopt an erratic course, or suddenly change speed, it is important that you be aware of any changes at the earliest possible time. In order to do this, keep your radio tuned to the ABC or your local commercial station for the most up-to-date cyclone information which is broadcast at regular intervals.
How have cyclones impacted the Pilbara?
The coast between Broome and Exmouth in Western Australia is the most cyclone-prone coast in the world. An average season sees four to five cyclones create destruction throughout the region, resulting in the title of 'cyclone alley'.
Some of the most recent cyclones in the Pilbara include:
- Severe Tropical Cyclone Bobby, February 1995 – This cyclone claimed the lives of 8 people as it crossed the coastline at Onslow. It also created significant flooding throughout the region.
- Severe Tropical Cyclone Vance, March 1999 - The strongest cyclone ever to cross into Australia narrowly missed Karratha and Dampier but caused millions of dollars’ worth of damage to Onslow and Exmouth. Fortunately, there was no loss of life.
- Tropical Cyclone Monty, March 2004 - Passed over Mardie station to the west of Dampier before passing near Pannawonica. Some damage was sustained, heavy rain flooded rivers and two people required rescuing. The township of Pannawonica was cut-off and a large part of the bridge over the Maitland River on the Northwest coastal highway was washed away.
- Severe Tropical Cyclone Christine, December 2013 – Trees were uprooted and roofs destroyed throughout the City of Karratha. Significant structural damage occurred to many houses in Roebourne and Wickham.
2016 Pre-Cyclone Season Residential Yard Clean Up is now complete:
Last date for placement of rubbish on road verge:
Dampier, Karratha Airport, Bulgarra, City Centre 10 October
Millars Well, Pegs Creek 18 October
Baynton, Nickol 28 October
Roebourne, Wickham, Point Samson, Cheeditha 7 November
Preparing for the residential yard clean up
- Tree loppings are to be stacked separately from other rubbish.
- Metal items to be separated from other rubbish and tree loppings.
- Keep all rubbish clear of fences, water meters, power poles, vehicles and trailers, letter boxes, Telstra pits, driveways and gardens.
- Items must be cut or dismantled into pieces shorter than 2.5m in length.
- Identify and separate items that are to remain on the verge as “DO NOT REMOVE”
- Items placed out that do not meet these criteria will not be removed.
- Littering fines may be imposed for material that creates a litter problem such as loose paper, plastic bags, cardboard food containers, clothing etc.
Air conditioners, batteries, bricks, building materials, chemicals, car bodies, concrete, dirt/rubble/gravel, fire extinguishers, food oils, flares, freezers, fridges, fuel, gas bottles, glass, liquids, microwave ovens, paints, pesticides, tyres.