Strong front also to bring high winds

Jackson Lavell-LeeBusselton Dunsborough Times

A storm front approaching the Capes region has put an end to a worrying dry spell and resulted in a severe weather warning for the region.

The Busselton-Margaret River region recorded its lowest May rainfall in more than a decade and Cape Leeuwin recorded the highest May average daily maximum temperature.

Busselton received only 24.8mm, while Margaret River received around 50mm — both well below the region’s average May rainfall of 155mm.

Bureau of Meteorology climatologist Yanhui Blockley said several weak cold fronts passed through the South West in early May and after a lengthy rainless period, heavy rains were expected today and over the weekend.

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“Weather forecast models indicate winter rainfall is likely lower than average for the South West, according to the Bureau's seasonal rainfall outlook,” she said.

“Despite year-to-year rainfall variability, the seven months (April-October) rainfall has decreased in the South West, and May-July rainfall has seen the largest decrease, by 20 per cent, since 1970.”

This rainfall decrease is linked to a shift in large-scale weather patterns.

The unusually dry conditions have made things tough for those in the agriculture sector.

Margaret River farmer Mitch Payne said his pasture was only still growing through the morning dew.

“We have had to buy a tank and cart water each day from our home property that has a bore just so we can keep the cows going,” he said.

“The past few weeks we have only had about 10mm but if we get some rain from Friday onward it should be OK. It’s just been a very dry start to the season.”

The lack of rain also had dangerous repercussions, with high winds and low moisture causing small fires to spread.

Several controlled burns in the Capes region escalated to out-of- control fires over the past week.

Walcliffe Volunteer Fire Brigade former captain Greg West said it was lucky the weather turned around as there was thick bush south of Carbunup road where a prescribed burn threatened to escalate out of control.

The Metricup volunteer fire brigade were one of many to attend the Carbunup escaped burn
Camera IconThe Metricup volunteer fire brigade were one of many to attend the Carbunup escaped burn Credit: Jackson Lavell-Lee

“When we first arrived it was all hands on deck to make sure this fire didn’t get out of hand,” he said.

“There was six escaped fires around Maragret River and Busselton yesterday and we were worried the wind would make this one hard to control.”

This weekend, the Bureau of Meterology advised strong cold fronts were approaching the region and severe weather warnings were likely to be issued.

As the cold front continues northerly winds are expected to strengthen.

Average winds may reach 50 to 60 kilometres per hour with damaging gusts, possibly to 100 kilometres per hour at times.

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