Roebourne bears brunt of Cyclone Veronica

Glenn Cordingley, Shannon Beattie and Alicia PereraPilbara News
Cyclone Veronica rolls in North of Barrow Island over Siem Offshore's vessel Siem Thiima.
Camera IconCyclone Veronica rolls in North of Barrow Island over Siem Offshore's vessel Siem Thiima. Credit: Matt Smith

Cyclone Veronica wreaked havoc in the Pilbara as the painstakingly slow-moving weather system dumped 148.85mm of rain in Roebourne over 48 hours and forced residents into lockdown for about two days.

Port Hedland residents were put on red alert at 3pm on Saturday and Karratha followed six hours later at 9pm.

The area around Wickham, Point Samson and Roebourne bore a large part of the category three cyclone as it crawled towards the coast and hung out over the water on Sunday.

Cyclone Veronica causes the Back Beach in Karratha to flood.
Camera IconCyclone Veronica causes the Back Beach in Karratha to flood. Credit: Thomas Fry

The system was downgraded to a category two early on Monday morning.

It then headed west towards Karratha and weakened below tropical cyclone severity by midnight Monday.

Hedland was released from red alert at 9am on Monday, but Karratha and surrounds were still on the highest alert until 6am Tuesday when destructive winds near the eye of the cyclone passed over the area.

Sunset in Karratha before Cyclone Veronica hit.
Camera IconSunset in Karratha before Cyclone Veronica hit. Credit: Rebecca Wilkinson

City of Karratha Mayor Peter Long said the highly unusual cyclone had been much less severe than expected.

“Everyone is really very happy, and the damage across the city is minor and mainly to vegetation,” he said.

“Roebourne got a lot of rain, but Karratha hardly got any — Karratha had 20-30mm over the three days, while Roebourne got 30mm just yesterday.”

“It was worse in the eastern corridor because they had higher winds, and Point Samson and parts of Wickham had power outages.”

Initial inspections by Main Roads indicated heavy flooding across sections of North West Coastal and Great Northern Highways, and other major roads in the Pilbara.

Main Roads executive director Des Snook said it could be a few days before badly affected sections of highway could be reopened.

“The priority is to assess the safety and condition of the highways and main roads and reopen them soon as possible,” he said.

Kade Johns climbs a fallen tree on Hall Street in Bulgarra.
Camera IconKade Johns climbs a fallen tree on Hall Street in Bulgarra. Credit: Amanda Hambley

Karratha State Emergency Services media manager Barry Harrison said they received 30 calls for assistance.

“It’s mostly been storm damage, so roofing and fence damage, all of it has been just minor damage... people did a marvellous job preparing, and hopefully, it’s set us up well for future cyclones,” he said.

A caravan that was flattened on Saturday night in Wickham.
Camera IconA caravan that was flattened on Saturday night in Wickham. Credit: Ian Cullen

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