Wild weather: Rockingham storm was ‘like something out of a movie’


A SUMMER thunderstorm that lashed Perth’s south on Sunday has been described by a resident as being “like something out of a movie”.

The powerful storm packing wind gusts up to 130km/h tore through Rockingham, damaging roofs, downing large trees and causing flash flooding.

“It started off as a normal summer’s day and changed within seconds to what felt like something out of a movie,” said Rockingham resident Kathleen Robinson.

The wild weather hit about 10am, with the worst damage suffered along the Rockingham foreshore where trees at a park were uprooted and businesses were forced to close because of roof damage.

Camera IconTrees branches down on the Rockingham foreshore after the storm hit the town.Picture: Nic Ellis

Ms Robinson was at Spill the Beans Café at Palm Beach Jetty when the severe weather struck.

“People were out walking their dogs, swimming at the beach and it changed in seconds to there being basically a torrential downpour with lashing winds,” she explained.

“People were screaming and yelling to come inside. Trees were crashing, lamp posts falling down, roofs being blown off, roads flooded within seconds.

“It only lasted for five minutes and then it was, literally back to a normal summer’s day again.”

This video from Spill The Beans coffee shop shows the moments Rockingham was lashed by a violent storm.

A three-storey apartment block on Harrison Street had its roof ripped off and debris was thrown hundreds of metres onto an intersection.

“People were screaming and a lot of people just couldn’t believe what was happening because it was so quick, it was just hold the kids heads and get ’em out of the way”, resident Claire Gay said.

Celia and Pat Morris, who rent an apartment on the foreshore, were also out having breakfast when the storm hit.

“We were just down the road and you could hear the rain coming,” Mrs Morris said.

“All of a sudden there was a bang and everyone started screaming as one of the side panels outside blew away.

“When it calmed down and we walked outside, we could see trees right along the foreshore that had been brought down by the wind.

“As we were walking back towards the apartment Pat said, ‘look at that and there’ and it was a twisted piece of roof at an intersection.

“As we came around the corner and saw our apartment he said, ‘look it is our roof’.”

A roof was ripped off a Rockingham apartment block.Camera IconA roof was ripped off a Rockingham apartment block.Picture: Facebook / Perth Weather Live

Mrs Morris, who is visiting from England, said they would stay with their daughter until returning home next month.

She said the storm had been one of the strongest she had seen, with the rain coming in sideways and winds whipping in like a thunderbolt.

Weather Bureau duty forecaster James Crow said it was unusual for a thunderstorm to form over the ocean.

“Normal thunderstorms are driven by surface heating, and this was driven by dynamics in the upper atmosphere,” he said. “To get a wind gust that strong is also unusual.”

Mr Crow said the storm dumped about 10mm of rain.

“That isn’t a huge amount, but it obviously fell quite quickly, which caused some flash flooding,” he said. “There was small hail as well, so perhaps that contributed to the drains blocking.”

The storm didn’t last long but its impact will be felt for days with damaged caused throughout the area.

Ben Mercer and his friends were in bed when a massive tree crashed down on their roof.

“It was just a massive crack and then just felt everything like crack on the inside,” he said.

It was anything but a pleasant day for a walk along the beach in Warnbro. Video: Shane Larsen, Baldivis Chat

Jurian Stuyfbergen’s awning was ripped from its footings and thrown over his roof into his neighbour’s driveway, part of it smashing into his car.

“Happened in a snap, the wind was louder than the actual awning ripping off,” he said.

As the cell tracked further inland it slowly lost its intensity but it was still raging as it passed through Waikiki.

Donna Mather said it felt like a tornado. The wind so strong she had to hold the door shut.

“I opened up the door and had a look and went ‘holy hell’,” she said.

“For like 10 minutes it just rained and the thunder and lightning and wind it was just horrendous.”

Rockingham State Emergency Service attended 22 calls for assistance since 10am.

It was 10 minutes of fury that’ll take days to clean up.