Tropical Cyclone “Seroja” made landfall as a Category 3 storm south of Kalbarri, Western Australia with wind gusts up to 170 km/h (106 mph) on Sunday, April 11, 2021. According to the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM), the storm caused widespread damage, left more than 20 000 homes without power, and brought the strongest wind gusts to Geraldton since 1956.
Seroja crossed the WA coast, south of Kalbarri near the town of Port Gregory at 12:00 UTC (20:00 LT) on Sunday evening as a Category 3 cyclone. Wind speeds of 120 to 140 km/h (75 to 87 mph) were recorded in Geraldton, Northampton, Binnu, Chapman Valley, and Mingenew.
Wind gusts in Geraldton were the strongest since 1956 when 140 km/h (87 mph) was recorded from an unnamed cyclone, BOM noted, adding that winds in Kalbarri and nearby areas were likely the strongest in more than 50 years.
Widespread damage has been reported to properties and homes, as well as power outages, which left more than 20 000 homes affected. In Kalbarri, some 70 percent of the town’s buildings sustained damage as many roofs were ripped off and winds sent debris flying.
Cyclones this intense rarely travel this far south in Australia, and places outside the cyclone belt are not commonly built to withstand the devastation.
“The enormity of what we faced was very apparent. Some of the older buildings didn’t stand up very well but even some of the modern buildings, they just couldn’t hold it,” Kalbarri State Emergency Service chief Steve Cable told the Australian Broadcasting Corp.
“Large trees with quite substantial limbs just snapped off like carrots.”