May 8-9 Winter Storms

Yesterday saw the first real winter storms for Western Australia and it is not even winter yet! We knew this system was going to be big but just how big was a surprise. As you can see from this Sat image, the front stretched from the North West down into the Southern Ocean.

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In the hope of seeing a water spout (we have had a few over the past month) my son and I headed off to the coast with our camera’s fully charged. On the way, I spotted this low, ominous looking cloud off to the south. There was some rotation and it looked like it was dropping, so we headed over to have a look.

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This cell dumped lots of rain and as we got close to where it had been, we saw small branches and leaves all over the road. Eventually, it dissipated and moved away to the south, so we continued towards the coast.

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We arrived at Kwinana Horse Beach to discover that the waves were washing right up to the dunes.  We had fished from this beach just a couple of weeks ago and normally, the water is about 40m from the dunes. Not today.

The sea was green and angry and every now and then a big set of waves would push foam and debris right up the access track. The wind was strong and blowing a constant gale. My son was nearly blown over a few times. This made holding the camera very difficult and using the tripod was not going to work either. So we sat in the car and waited, watching.

And then , on the horizon, we saw a growing dark mass. As the wind began to pick up, our excitement went up a level. You could tell by looking at the approaching front that this was going to hit us hard. To our right, looking north, we could see another cell further up the coast as it passed somewhere over Fremantle. There were some very interesting cloud formations going on and for a while, I thought we might actually see a spout form.

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We watched this for a while before turning our attention to the cell out to sea. By now, it was just on the other side of Garden Island and closing in fast. We could see the rain curtain and the wind was really howling. I fired a few shots off before retreating to the car. And then it was on us. BANG. It hit with so much force that my car (2.5 tonne 4WD) was rocking and shaking.

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8th May 2013 Winter Storm from Matt Fricker on Vimeo.

For a moment, there was a complete white out and the noise was deafening. And then, as suddenly as it had started… it was past. Within a minute or two, there was a patch of blue sky.

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We made the decision to go for a drive out toward Serpentine to see if any damage had been done. As we moved east, we could see lots of small branches and leaves over the roads and there was plenty of water on the sides of the road and in the paddocks. By now, our cell was out past Pinjarra. We found a safe place off the road and pulled over to check out some new cells that had  crossed the coast and were chasing us!  I took this 360° image just west of Serpentine. Click here to open the image viewer on a new page.

Although I prefer to head out and chase storms in summer, winter storms and cold fronts can be exciting to witness up close. Having said that, these storms can be dangerous and property can and does get damaged. Remember to stay safe, clean out your gutters and keep those yards tidy.

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