Tornadoes in Western Australia
WA gets 7 More Winter Tornadoes. By Ira Fehlberg
The 7th of June saw a severe winter low pressure system cross the coast of WA. Winds speeds of over 100kph were recorded in Perth. The low got down to around 974hpa in the centre which was about 500k's south of any land. A good thing really as this system had an amazing structure. Winds speed were 120kph constant in the centre with gusts up to 200kph! One can only speculate as to what human and material loss would have been had this low crossed the well populated south west corner. As it was there were so many reports of damage that its been hard to ascertain what was a tornado and what was just wind. We do however have 6 confirmed tornadoes. Brookton-Pingelly, Southern Cross, Training, Nth Tamarin, Kwinana and East Arthur. Myself and the guys at the bureau believe that these figures are a gross underestimate. There were literally hundreds of reports of damage. The Brookton-Pingelly tornado is interesting in the fact that there is a broken track track that runs for 20k's. The tornado first touched down in Brookton doing some minor damage to homes, fences and small trees. The track then continues through to Pingelly. The tornado seems to have been lifting off the ground and then touching down again, it does this several time but Its hard to see were its lifted off because there are several open paddocks in the area. However nearly every line of trees has damage and farms along the way were damaged. The tornado only went into the town of Pingelly a small distance, damaging about 15 homes and business's. Damage includes, lost tiles, chimneys, TV antenna, tin, outdoor toilets, twisting off of tree tops and such. The damage is consistent with a strongish F-0 tornado. One interesting story to do with this tornado was that when I was speaking to one of the farmers he causally said to me " yeah this year its come up 500 yards closer to the house" I said "sorry?" he replied "yeah we get one every year but it usually runs up the creek bed down there" ( this creek bed is in a small valley ) I said "you get one a year" he replied "yeah we get one or two a year, usually weak, just knocks old trees over and that and probably once every two or three years we get a strong one" I couldn't believe it! I made sure I left him my phone number and explained the significance of reporting these events.
Below are some pictures of the damage near Pingelly.
The Southern Cross tornado was also significant as it pulled down large power towers and lines that supply power to Kalgoorlie. This is the 4th time that a tornado has done this since 1994 and most of those summers have produced less than average tornadic events. Barry Hanstrum of the WA severe weather section was asked to meet with Western Power to explain tornadoes and such. Apparently Western Power have well paying mining investors who want to know why this keeps happening. It cost the big mines $10m profit loss per day without power. Understandably they are pissed off. This however may be a possible avenue for the bureau and myself to receive funding. A mobile Doppler costs allot less than $10m!! Get my drift. Well its okay to dream I suppose. Anyway three towers were pulled down and the Channel 7 chopper pilot told me that it was plain to see where it had been on the ground. He gave an estimating of 1k wide by 5-10k's long. He said the ground looked liked it had been ploughed. This and the towers suggests at least an F-2 possibly more, no trees were damaged. The Training tornado was directly through the town 500m wide by 5k's long. Damage reported was once again consistent with a strong F-0. The Nth Tamarin event was through a farm and trees and seems to be a little stronger. I have no details of size and length, but from the pics I've seen id say again strong F-0 / weak F-1. The Kwinana event was in a large industrial yard and moved a 70tonne crane that apparently has never ever moved in the 20 years of storms that it has seen. Several large 120kilo steel beams were picked up and deposited about 200m away. F-1 / F-2? maybe more, who knows. The East Arthur tornado was also in bushland that crossed a main road which is the only reason we picked it up. 90% of the tress are down and the track is about 200m wide by about 2-3k's long, an F-1 it would seem. It certainly was a very significant system and has been getting much research by the bureau guys here. If you include the 12 months from the 5th of September last year up till now WA has had a remarkable 16 tornadoes! That's confirmed events folks. I'd conservatively say there are probably another 3-4 that went by undetected, we probably get most of them now that there are a few of us looking for tornadic events but still we must miss some. That's 16 tornadoes over the poorest summer I have seen since I started chasing and winter has been average. All this from just two goods systems, we are supposed to average 3-4 systems capable of producing tornadoes each year. With the break down of El'nino putting more moisture back into the tropics forecasts are looking like more storms in the next few years and for them to be located further south near populated areas. One can only imagine what the next few years may bring. The tragic Thredbo landslide disaster killed 15 people. Just look at the impact this has had on Australia as a nation. When one of natures incredible tornadoes gets going in a densely populated area Thredbo will pail into insignificance. I cringe everytime I think of the numerous near misses I have seen. F-3's right near Mandurah, there's been at least 3 of these. It also saddens me to think that these majestic beasts will one day kill people here in WA. The day is drawing near and when it does all the questions will be asked, why no warnings were given and so on. Hopefully decent severe weather research program's and funding will be the result.
UPDATE: WA started the year in style with the large Boyup Brook F-2 tornado that was written about in the last edition of storm news. Since then we have leant about another tornado on the same night as the Boyup Brook event. Dardanup just SE of Bunbury was the scene of this small but violent tornado. The tornado touched down amongst farms at 7:50pm. Jenny Daniani said that she saw a storm coming and moved indoors. Marble sized hail began to fall about 5mins before the tornado hit. The tornado touched down about 500m from Jenny's house and ran straight down the road in between three homes. The Daniai's house received some minor damage which included, a broken window, loosened tiles, paint tins, chairs and tables and a cupboard sucked from the garage and strewn across the paddock and a trampoline deposited down in the creek. the tornado really only brushed past their house and the main damage is to trees along the road. About 40% of trees are down. the track is about 100-200mts wide and runs for about 2-3k's in a NNW-SSE direction.
Damage pictures from the Dardanup Tornado.
The first two pictures are of the two trees that once stood at the end of the driveway. One is left un-touched the other is ripped out at the base. Both were the same size.
In the first picture below note the de-barking of the tree at the bottom. Also in the last picture note the twisting of the branches.
UPDATE: A property just outside Toodyay was destroyed by a tornado on the 27th of July. Details are sketchy. No warmings were even out at the time which is typical for winter tornadoes anyway. Several tress were damaged and the roof was completely removed from one house. All the farm sheds were completely destroyed. The paper reported the event as a Microburst. God help reporters, please. The tornado was witnessed by some roof carpenters who were working on a roof just 200m away! They were so frightened by the ordeal that they packed up and drove back to Perth. Apparently the guy cant get them to return to finish the job. I'm yet to speak with these men, but I will endeavour to find them.