Cyclone Information

Tropical cyclones are a seasonally occurring natural hazard that can cause considerable loss of life and material damage. In Australia, Cyclone Tracy caused the loss of 55 lives in Darwin on Christmas Day 1974.

The strongest cyclone ever to cross the Australian coast, Severe Tropical Cyclone John, crossed north of Karratha near Whim Creek in December 1999. However, Severe Tropical Cyclone Vance, in March 1999, caused more damage, narrowly missing Karratha and Dampier but causing millions of dollars worth of damage to Onslow and Exmouth. Fortunately no lives were lost.

Cyclone Tracking Map

Natural Disasters

For information on your local counter disaster plan or any advice on cyclones and storms, floods and earthquakes, contact the State Emergency Service on 9144 1848 Monday nights between 7pm and 10pm. Karratha is situated in an earthquake area and Cyclone Storm Surge can be an issue.

The WA State Emergency Service is the hazard management agency for tropical cyclones in Western Australia. The SES is a dedicated group of volunteers from all walks of society who offer their services free of charge to the community in times of natural or man made disasters. All members are highly trained and prepared for the various emergencies with which they may become involved. The Unit is always seeking new members and enquiries are welcome.

Definition & Occurence

A tropical cyclone is a circular rotating storm of tropical origin in which the mean wind speed exceeds 63 km/h (gale force). Wind speeds in excess of 100km/h are common by the time a cyclone crosses the coast and higher wind speeds frequently occur. Tropical
cyclones are very rare outside the cyclone ‘season’ from the beginning of November to the end of April. Once cyclones cross the coast, they tend to decay within 24 to 48 hours and the strong central winds die away. Dangerous flooding can occur as heavy rain falls inland.

Cyclone Threats

  • Cyclones threaten life and property in three ways:
  • Fluctuating wind pressure can weaken and possibly cause the collapse of buildings and other structures.
  • Loose objects, such as patio furniture, rubbish bins, dog kennels and building material can become lethal windborne projectiles causing severe structural damage to homes and killing or injuring people in their path.
  • Flooding can result from an abnormal rise in the level of the ocean (storm surge) caused by the cyclone or as a result of heavy rainfall in river catchments.


As cyclones often adopt an erratic course and can change speed suddenly, it is important to be aware of any changes. Tune your radio to the ABC or local commercial radio stations for regular broadcasts of up-to-date information.

Cyclone Season Preparation

  • Clean your residence or work area of unwanted materials and rubbish.
  • Trim trees of excess height and growth to withstand high winds.
  • Clear drains of rubbish or obstructions.
  • Have on hand a stock of emergency supplies, eg. first aid kit, candle or torches, batteries for your portable radio, canned food, drinking water containers, etc.
  • Decide where best to shelter your pets.
  • Determine location and establish cyclone tie-down areas for caravans, boats, trailers, etc.
  • Have an emergency plan.

Cyclone Alerts

Blue Alert

  • A cyclone has formed and may affect the area within 48 hours. Check that all preparation activities have been undertaken.
  • Clear your area of all loose material and rubbish.
  • Check that cyclone screens are available or securely fitted in place.
  • Ensure emergency supplies are to hand.
  • Check that caravan, boat, trailer and other cyclone tie-down equipment is available.
  • Observe economy in the use of water.

Yellow Alert

  • A cyclone is moving closer to the area and appears inevitable. Timing will be calculated by time, place & circumstances. A risk assessment needs to be undertaken by employers and employees to determine when to close business and send
    employees home. The SES will advise businesses to implement their Cyclone Action Plans. Remember employers have a duty of care and could be held responsible. Carry out the following activities:
  • Ensure that all loose material and objects around residences, commercial and industrial buildings and work areas are safely stowed or secured.
  • Check that all cyclone screens are securely fastened into position.
  • Secure caravans, boats, trailers, etc, to their tie-down positions.
  • Prepare safe shelter for pets or animals.
  • Top up vehicle fuel tanks.
  • Fill emergency containers with water and make sure all other emergency supplies are to hand.

Red Alert

  • A cyclone is imminent.
  • Make arrangements to be in your residence and/or shelter areas when the cyclone arrives.
  • Ensure pets and animals are safely sheltered.
  • When parking up vehicles, select the best available sheltered area, apply handbrake and engage park or reverse gear.
  • As wind velocities increase, shut all windows.
  • During the height of the cyclone, keep clear of windows and stay in the most sheltered part of your residence.
  • Should the eye of the cyclone pass immediately over the area, be aware that the wind will temporarily drop, then blow in the opposite direction.
  • Except in extreme emergencies, stay indoors until the cyclone All Clear is announced.
  • If you are unavoidably caught in the cyclone in an unprotected area, make your way, stooping or crawling if necessary, to shelter. Otherwise lie down and hang on.
  • Continue to listen to your radio for up-to-date instructions affecting the area.

All Clear

  • The cyclone has passed the area but there may still be high winds and heavy rain.
  • Only venture outdoors with caution.
  • Check for fallen trees, broken power lines, broken water and drain lines, loose sheeting and debris.
  • Commence cleanup activities as soon as practical.
  • Report dangerous situations to the authorities.

Cyclone Watch Messages

Cyclone Watch Messages are released every 6 hours when there is a possibility that a cyclone may produce gale force winds on the coast within the next 24 to 48 hours.

Cyclone Warning Messages

Cyclone Warnings are released every three hours when there is a possibility of gales occurring in coastal areas within the next 24 hours. The warnings contain details of the position and movement of the cyclone as well as the coastal areas under threat.

Cyclone Warning messages are issued at 7am, 10am, lpm, 4pm, 7pm and 10pm. Hourly messages are issued when a cyclone is threatening population centres.

Broadcast Schedules

During a cyclone, the Watch or Warning messages are broadcast according to the following schedule:

  • ABC Regional Network - 15min past the hour of issue
  • North West Radio - 30min past the hour of issue
  • Details of cyclone movements are also available by telephoning 1300 659 210 or faxing 1800 630 100.
  • The number to call for road conditions in the Pilbara is 138 138.

Storm Surge

A cyclone may cause a tidal or storm surge which may present a significant hazard to the community of Karratha. Depending on the severity of a surge, some or even a majority of residents may need to be evacuated. The SES monitors the situation continuously, and jointly with the Police will initiate evacuation of residents by area as necessary. Low category cyclones are not likely to cause a tidal surge threat, however, higher categories of 3 to 5 may.

Contact Numbers


Police 9143 7200
State Emergency Service 13 25 00
Ambulance 9185 1222
Hospital 9143 2333
Fire & Rescue 9185 2580
Water and Sewerage 13 13 75
Horizon Power 13 23 51


Police 9183 1144
Fire & Rescue 9183 0593
Water and Sewerage 13 13 75
Horizon Power 13 23 51


Police 9182 1133
State Emergency Service 13 25 00
Ambulance 0417 607 063
Hospital 9182 0200
Fire & Rescue 9182 1391
Water and Sewerage 13 13 75
Water and Sewerage (after hours) 13 13 75
Horizon Power 13 23 51


Police 9187 1444
State Emergency Service 13 25 00
Hospital 9187 1015
Fire & Rescue 9187 1315
Water and Sewerage 13 13 75
Horizon Power 13 23 51
Cyclone Conditions 1800 201 111


24 Hour Statewide SES 13 25 00
Balmoral Road
9144 1848
Roebourne District SES Unit
Wickham Dr, Wickham
9187 1800


(Manned only during training or emergencies).

Balmoral Road, Karratha 9144 1848
Unit Manager (OIC) Trevor Patton
Deputy Manager Colin Elliott