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Perth reels but rain brings farmers joy
Perth reels but rain brings farmers joy

A deluge of rain and hail swept across Perth yesterday afternoon, turning streets white and causing disruption throughout the city.

But farmers in regional WA were relieved as crop-saving rains brought many back from the brink of despair after a record dry winter.

The Weather Bureau has told WA to prepare for a wet spring and warned that more wild weather is on the way today.

Perth received about 33mm of rain yesterday - more than a third of the entire monthly September rainfall average of 80mm.

Yesterday was also the coldest September day in Perth for three years and reached a maximum of just 15C at 2.23pm.

Bickley, just east of Perth, received 67mm, the highest rainfall in WA yesterday morning, while there were reports of snow on Bluff Knoll in the State's south.

Hail hit East Fremantle about 8am but by 3pm there were reports entire streets in Bayswater, Maylands and Midlands were covered in sleet and pea-sized hailstones.

West Coast Eagles star Nic Naitanui quipped he was playing backyard "streetball" with hailstones at his Perth home.

"Good to see a bit of hail in Perth . . . something different on the drive," he tweeted.

Weather Bureau meteorologist Neil Bennett said cold weather, after Tuesday night's storms, had led to a deluge of icy sleet across the city.

"The air behind the cold front was really cold and that's enabled the hail to form and fall, because it's been the coldest September day on record since September 29, 2009," he said.

Mr Bennett said there was a chance of more hail today.

"It's really just small pea-sized stuff, but it makes it look very wintry."

Mr Bennett said wind chill and rain meant parts of the South West had posted an apparent temperature below zero.

Windy Harbour, 55km south-west of Manjimup, had an "apparent" temperature of minus 8C.

About 5000 people were without power yesterday afternoon, including 1000 people in Bridgetown.

FESA said it received 29 calls for help from 9am yesterday for minor damage in the metropolitan area.

While the rain caused traffic congestion in the city, it brought relief in the Wheatbelt..

Williams received 27mm, Gnowangerup 20mm, Kojonup 17mm and Narrogin 25mm.

WA Farmers Federation president Dale Park, who farms near Badgingarra, said nearly 20mm overnight had been received overnight.

"The Wheatbelt has been desperate for rain," he said.

He warned the rain had come too late for farmers in the north-east Wheatbelt, near Perenjori.

"But there's still time left in the growing season for much of the Wheatbelt and what we want now is for it to keep raining until October - and then stop," he said.

Department of Agriculture and WA grains industry executive director Peter Metcalfe said rainfall of generally less than 20mm had been received across the Wheatbelt, which would help crops cope for about another week.

But he said WA was still on track for a lower than normal grain harvest after a dry winter.

"Yield potentials across the Wheatbelt are lower than the long-term average even if normal rain is experienced in the next eight weeks, but much better than the 2010 season," he said.

Bunbury boy Carter Ridgway, 5, spent yesterday splashing in puddles on his grandfather Gordon Haigh's Boyanup farm, which received 42mm.

Mr Haigh said he was in a good position compared with farmers in the Wheatbelt and the rain would lessen reliance on irrigation and save operating costs.