Not so dusty, thanks to Rusty

James Nason, 27/02/2013

Tropcial Cyclone Rusty may have weakened since crossing the WA coast between Port Hedland and Pardoo overnight but producers across the region continue to welcome timely rain from the system as it moves inland.

The cyclone made landfall as a category three system overnight and and at 5am WST, Rusty was located about 65 kilometres east northeast of Marble Bar in WA's eastern Pilbara, and gaining speed as it traveled south.

Weatherzone said rainfall totals of 173mm were recorded yesterday at Telfer Airport, the heaviest there since 2004, while the deluge also caused the Nullagine River to exceed its major flood level this morning.

The wind and rain is expected to ease today as Rusty pushes further inland and weakens below cyclone strength.

"It will bring notable rainfall to central and southern areas of the state," Weatherzone Ben Domensino said. 

"Widespread falls of over 20mm are likely for central and southern parts of WA by the weekend.

"On Friday, parts of the Goldfields may see more than 60mm, which for Kalgoorlie would be the heaviest recorded in 13 years."

Rusty is the sixth tropical cyclone to have been named in Australian waters so far this season.

Livestock agent Andrew Stewart from Landmark in Broome said the rain brought by Rusty should benefit a large number of local stations.

“Up until this, the west Kimberley has been pretty light on, but we have now had four or five days of rain which has dropped anywhere between 100-250mm down this western strip on average,” Mr Stewart told Beef Central as Rusty bore down on the WA coast yesterday.

“This depression has certainly brought some relief which will take a little bit of pressure with regards to the season, on the back of prices and the uncertainty that remains with import permits (to Indonesia).”

Further south at Anna Plains, David and Helen Stoate had measured 300mm in the previous three days, their first major rain of the season.

Mr Stewart said producers in the vicinity of the strip of coast known as “cyclone alley” were seasoned campaigners, but no one wanted the damage that a direct cyclonic hit could bring to buildings, roads and fences. Fortunately Rusty's crossing appears to have caused only minimal problems to some rooves and little to no damage elsewhere according to overnight reports. 

“Traditionally the rain for this region comes from cyclones,” Mr Stewart said.

“It is a bit of a catch 22, you need the cyclone to bring the moisture, but you don’t want the dramas that can come with it.”

He said cattle were doing well in areas of the Kimberley that did receive earlier rain prior to Christmas, and again in the past two weeks, while the rain brought by Rusty should also improve the season for many.

“Just driving around there a couple of weeks ago, the feed was really sticking to the cattle, they weren’t scouring and they were really putting on weight, so this will help things out no end.”

Mr Stewart said live export prices in the Kimberley region had dropped back to around 170c/kg, back in line with rates being paid in Darwin, as the import permit drought continued to bite.



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