Severe weather set to hit ‘fair whack’ of WA including Perth, as farmers race to harvest record crops

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Farmers in WA’s Mid West on the cusp of a record harvest are racing to get as much of their crop cut as possible ahead of a significant weather system, which is set to bring rain to half of the state and potentially damaging winds from Tuesday.

The wet weather, which is expected to dump between 20 to 50 millimetres of rain on some areas along the west coast, accompanied by gusty winds, has the potential to damage crops, depending on its intensity.

It is also likely to propel Perth to double its monthly average rainfall for the month, with forecast totals of between 25 and 30 millimetres on Tuesday and further falls on Wednesday.

Severe weather warnings for damaging winds have been issued for towns on the west coast between Kalbarri and Mandurah, including Perth, and large parts of inland WA stretching from the Pilbara to Eucla regions. 

Drone picture harvest in Mid West of WADrone picture harvest in Mid West of WA
Crop harvesting has begun at a rapid pace in the Mid West region, with incoming rain threatening to halt it for at least a week.(Supplied: Michael OCallaghan)

Bureau of Meteorology senior forecaster Noel Puzey said there would be two parts to the system, beginning with a moisture-laden band of cloud expected to move over the state from early Tuesday morning. 

“So the first band stretches all the way from offshore in the tropics, over the top of Carnarvon, all the way down through the western parts of the state by Tuesday morning,” he said. 

“There will be some pretty decent rainfall in the order of 20 to 50 millimetres along the west coast.”

four day rainfall forecast Australia BOM mapfour day rainfall forecast Australia BOM map
Western Australia’s west coast is set to see widespread rain from tomorrow.(Supplied: BOM)

Mr Puzey said the rain was expected to ease off as the system moved inland, but those parts of the state would experience gusty winds, in the vicinity of 40 to 60 kilometres an hour, with gusts up to 90 kph possible.

“The main feature ahead of that rainfall will be the quite strong and gusty winds over a fair inland whack of the state, through the central and eastern Gascoyne, down through the Goldfields and central and eastern parts of the south west land division,” he said. 

“That could also bring some raised dust in those eastern areas before the rainfall comes through.”

Mr Puzey said the front would be followed by a low pressure system approaching the west coast later on Tuesday and into Wednesday, which could see heavy rainfall, further gusty winds and possible thunderstorms.

“The very tight gradient between Denham and Mandurah will bring very gusty winds on the coast again, up to about 100 kph, but also the risk of a thunderstorm and some heavy showers as well,” he said. 

“Things will ease fairly rapidly during the day on Wednesday, [with] a couple of showers remaining on the south coast and west coast south of Perth, even into Thursday.”

‘Brutal’ heat forecast for WA’s north

Meanwhile in WA’s north, heatwave conditions are on the horizon.

By the end of this week, Broome will be experiencing an “extreme” heatwave, reaching 42 degrees on Saturday, as will parts of the East Kimberley. 

Close up of wave at sunsetClose up of wave at sunset
Western Australia’s north will experience “extreme heatwave” conditions later this week(ABC: Chris Lewis)

Mr Puzey said temperatures had been building up over the region, with winds struggling to provide relief.

“So not only will it be quite hot, and we’re talking in the range of sort of 40 to 43 degrees for some of the main parts of the North Kimberley there, but the minimum temperatures will be [about] 27 or 28 degrees, so there’s not a lot of relief even overnight.”

Race to harvest ahead of weather

Farmers in the Mid West, like Mullewa’s Rod Messina, have spent the last few days pushing to get crops harvested ahead of the weather system, with concerns it may cause damage.

“I’d say we’re pushing the friendship at the moment, we’ve blocked the header a few times, we’ve snapped a few belts in the last couple of days but we’re just trying to make a start,” he said.

Rod Messina stands in front of his crop and header at sunsetRod Messina stands in front of his crop and header at sunset
Mullewa farmer Rod Messina has been racing to harvest his canola crop, ahead of a cold-front set to bring widespread rain and storms to the state on Tuesday.(ABC: Chris Lewis)

Mr Messina said the season had been fantastic so far.

“Yield-wise, I don’t think it will for us but it’s going to be extremely close to the best ever. It’s nice to be on the winning end.”

But he said the rainfall could threaten totals, depending on its intensity.

“Worst-case scenario is that we get quite a big deluge and it strips the pods off the plants, and potentially hail,” he said.

“But hopefully none if it will happen and it will be a nice gentle rain, as bad as it is this time of year for us.”

Hail is not forecast for the Mid West but Mr Puzey said there was the potential for significant rain.