Tropical Cyclone “Damien” dissipates after making landfall near Karratha, Western Australia


Tropical Cyclone "Damien" made landfall near Karratha on February 8, 2020, with wind gusts exceeding 205 km/h (125 mph) near the landfall point. More than 230 mm (9.1 inches) of rain was recorded in Karratha and Roebourne from February 8 to 9. The storm damaged roofs and downed power lines, leaving around 9 500 customers without power. In preparation for Damien, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology issued a red alert from Whim Creek to Mardie stretching south to Millstream, and a yellow alert from Port Hedland to Whim Creek extending southwards to Wittenoom. Evacuation centers were set up in Karratha and South Hedland. An urban search and rescue team was also stationed in Port Hedland.

At 14:00 LT (06:00 UTC) on February 9, the storm had sustained winds near the center of 65 km/h (40 mph) and gusts to 95 km/h (60 mph), moving south at 15 km/h (9 mph), according to the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM).

Damien caused significant damage as it made landfall on Saturday night, with posts on social media showing torn roofs and knocked down trees.

One resident in Karratha named Beau Corps, who has lived in the town since 1985, said he was forced to crawl under his kitchen table while destructive winds peeled the roof off his house.

"There was a big crash and I could see, through the vents in the roof, the light coming through and I realized my roof had peeled off," he said.

"I grabbed the cat and went to run outside but it was really, really strong obviously and I knew the tree was blocking a hole, a gap in the fence to my brother's house," he added.

"We were hunkered under the table. My brother rang and just asked where I was and I told him I was under the table. He said 'just stay there'."

Another resident named Stuart Otto said it was the worst storm he had experienced. "My house is 50 years old and at the end of the day, it held up well."

"My brother lives four doors down and he's got a brick house, but his verandah out the back is absolutely decimated [with] three fences down, I haven't seen a direct hit like this before."

"Right up to the eye it was bad, and then you go okay, she'll be fine dropping off the other side, but after the eye, it was worse," he continued, noting that his house was shaking "like a leaf."

The storm also caused power outages that affected about 10 000 customers on Saturday night. Power had been successfully restored to a number of Karratha on Sunday morning, February 9, according to Horizon Power spokeswoman Michelle South.

"Network patrols will continue in daylight hours to assess further damage and restore power to any remaining areas," she said. "The process of complete restoration and repairs will likely take some time and we thank customers for their patience and understanding as we work through this process."

According to BOM, squally conditions are expected to continue near the system on Sunday and possibly on Monday, February 10.

Severe weather warnings remained in effect for parts of Gascoyne and Goldfields districts; food watches are issued for Pilbara, Gascoyne District, and Salt Lakes Districts, and flood warnings are in place for Pilbara Coastal Rivers, Ashburton River, and Fortescue River.

Featured image credit: @danagbeje/Twitter

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