Eyre Highway cut off as severe weather hits Goldfields, leaves roads, rail lines flooded

Jacob ShteymanAAP
The iconic Indian Pacific train service across the Nullarbor has been cancelled due to flooding. (Rebecca Le May/AAP PHOTOS)
Camera IconThe iconic Indian Pacific train service across the Nullarbor has been cancelled due to flooding. (Rebecca Le May/AAP PHOTOS) Credit: AAP

The main land route connecting Western Australia to the rest of the country is likely to remain closed for several days as parts of the state experience more than half a year’s worth of rain in 24 hours.

The Trans-Australian Railway line and the Eyre Highway, key freight routes running between WA and South Australia through the Nullarbor, have been closed since the weekend with water over roads and railways.

More than 155mm of rain has fallen on Rawlinna, 900km east of Perth, since 9am on Friday, while the Bureau of Meteorology has forecast 24-hour totals of up to 130mm for parts of the Goldfields, Eucla and South Interior districts.

Average rainfall in those areas is around 260mm per year.

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“A near-stationary trough over southeastern Western Australia will remain in the area until the middle of the week,” the BOM said on Tuesday.

“A moist airmass drawn southward from the tropics is combining with this trough to produce a band of heavy rainfall, with embedded thunderstorms capable of locally intense falls.”

The system is expected to persist throughout the rest of Tuesday and possibly into Wednesday, with dangerous and life-threatening flash flooding possible.

WA’s Department of Fire and Emergency Services warned residents in Rawlinna as well as Carnegie, Cocklebiddy and Eyre to seek shelter, stand clear of windows and refrain from driving through floodwaters.

“If you live in parts of the Goldfields, Eucla and South Interior districts you should take action and stay safe with severe weather to come,” the department advised.

“This is not typical weather for southeastern Western Australia.”

Given the anticipated prolonged rainfall, the east-west rail line is expected to remain closed until later in the week, the Australian Rail Track Corporation said.

The iconic Indian-Pacific train service that operates between Perth and Sydney via Adelaide has been cancelled as a result.

“Due to a severe weather incident on the Nullarbor, the Indian Pacific schedule until Saturday 16 March has been impacted,” its website says.

“At this time, all departures from Sunday 17 March will operate as scheduled.”

Meanwhile, a tropical low in the Indian Ocean is expected to develop into a tropical cyclone as it tracks closer

to the Pilbara coast later this week.

There is a possibility it will bring gale force winds to Christmas Island as it passes to the south on Tuesday.

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