Storm cells a showstopper

Headshot of Shannon Smith
Shannon SmithAlbany Advertiser
A strike on the city.
Camera IconA strike on the city. Credit: Mick Martin

Spectacular lightning shows lit up the sky this week as wild weather lashed the Great Southern.

Thunderstorm warnings were issued from Sunday to Wednesday, with radar imagery showing severe thunderstorm activity over much of the region.

Residents were warned to take action, with winds gusts up to 100km/h and heavy downpours as the storm cells passed.

The Department of Fire and Emergency Services was called out to a report of roof damage in Mt Barker on Tuesday after a tree fell through the a roof in strong winds, causing the ceiling to cave in.

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Palmdale farmer Sonja Johnson received more than 54mm of rain on her property on Tuesday.

With cheer in her voice, she said she was practically in heaven after a terrible 2018.

“You could see that we weren’t going to have flood damage. We do know of two fences that we have lost so far,” she said. “That is irritating but we are all walking taller and the air is clearer, so we are absolutely happy about it.

“We would have preferred it to have fallen gently and steadily but we would rather have it than not have it.”

Ms Johnson reminisced the late break in the season last year.

“I have photos of our place last year on June 5 and the paddocks were blowing away and I came in that day and cried.

“When you get a break in March, the soil temperature is still good and germination and growth do very much rely on that and everyone’s soils are warm at the moment.

“There is no guarantee that it will keep going and we need to keep getting the follow up rain, but what it has done has given us hope and that’s a thing that all farmers need.

Albany’s Mick Martin watched the lightning from the Spark Plug tower on Mt Melville on Tuesday.

He captured one lightning strike hitting close to a home on Bathurst Street in Mira Mar.

The bolt struck a power pole and cut power to the home.

“I was filming when the lightning hit that power line. At the time it look liked it hit straight onto a house. That gave me a bit of a shock so I stopped filming,” he said.

“As I looked closer to where it struck, I could see sparks and flashes. It was pretty crazy.”

While Albany Airport recorded only 3.4mm, there were reports of rainfall up to 100mm in parts of the Great Southern.

Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Robert Lawry said the variation in rainfall totals was due to the fast-moving nature of thunderstorms. “One of the things with thunderstorms is that they keep moving, and as they move they might be dropping 100mm in an hour but unless they stop still, you won’t get that,” he said.

“Sometimes our rain gauges don’t pick up the heaviest falls because they are so isolated sometimes,

“As the thunderstorms develop throughout the day you get a lot of heating, and with the warm and humid conditions it is just perfect for lightning.”

Some of the rainfall totals until 9am Wednesday included Tonebridge, 40.2ml, Mt Barker received 22.8ml and Manypeaks had 24.8ml fall.

Katanning received 15.8ml, South Stirlings had 18.4ml and Rocky Gully had 15.8ml.

Top wind gusts recorded were in Tonebridge, south west of Kojonup, where 107 km/h was felt and South Stirling’s recorded 85km/h.

A map of lightning strikes in the 24 hours on Tuesday.
Camera IconA map of lightning strikes in the 24 hours on Tuesday.

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