When a cyclone approaches, you can get information from:
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.
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 the closest welfare centre.
- Identify a safe place for your pet (most welfare centres do not accept pets, but do accept guide dogs).
- 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.
- Remind your family of cyclone procedures.
When a YELLOW ALERT has been issued, you need to take action:
- Monitor 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. Place valuables, important papers and photos in waterproof bags to be taken 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.
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 you are in (have two walls between you and the outside of your house i.e. internal hallway) or 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.
All Clear Alert
- When an official ALL CLEAR notice is issued, you need to take care to avoid dangers caused by damage
- Listen for information and follow 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 advice before you go back. If returning, take the roads recommended by authorities and do not hurry.