Not in Kansas now

By Ashleigh Fielding | posted on September 8, 2018

CLEAN-UP efforts are nearly complete in the Shire of Plantagenet following a purported “mini tornado” that struck Mount Barker, Kendenup and the outskirts of Cranbrook last week.

Manager of Works and Services for the shire, David Lynch said wild wind hit mid-afternoon on August 28 and travelled in an almost straight, south-easterly direction from Nunijup Road.

It tore down trees and fences along Martagallup, Boyup, Gough, Beattie, Hobbs and Jutland Roads, creating a trail of destruction Mr Lynch approximated at being 40km long.

He said it would have been “an absolute disaster” if any houses had been in the path.

“In some areas, the trail is about 200m to 500m wide,” Mr Lynch told The Weekender on Tuesday.

“Martagallup was in such a mess, there were six farmers already helping to clean up by the time we got there.

“Beattie Road was completely covered in trees so we had to use a bulldozer to clear the road.

“I’ve had about 10 to 14 guys out there working for the past seven days and I reckon we’re about 90 per cent finished cleaning up now, but over the next two weeks we will probably still be picking up stuff off the roads.”

Plantagenet Shire CEO Robert Stewart was in disbelief about how much demolition the wind had caused.

“It really did a lot of a damage,” he said.

“It chopped some trees in half, it’s quite amazing.”

Manager of Works for Cranbrook Shire Jeff Alderton said the town was very fortunate to have missed the brunt of the weather event, receiving only a couple of reports of fallen trees during the course of that afternoon.

“We had a couple of call-outs to north of Tenterden up to Tunney with people using the Snap Send Solve app, which was fantastic, because a big tree to one person is a small tree to someone else, and that helped us with organising the clean up,” he said.

A spokesperson from the Bureau of Meteorology told The Weekender that their observations showed a maximum wind speed of 35kph in Mt Barker on that day, which was “by no means excessive”.

The spokesperson also said that despite public perception, there is “no such thing” as a mini tornado.

“It’s not an area where the Bureau of Meteorology has extensive weather recording equipment – most of the observations in that area come from DPIRD,” the spokesperson said, regarding the Shire of Plantagenet.

“There were no wind warnings issued for the region on the day in question, despite a low-pressure system moving through.

“Having said that, small extreme wind events can occur undetected in areas without weather monitoring equipment.”