Tenindewa Hurricane 1915

Below is an article from the Tenindewa Notes column of the Geraldton Guardian Tuesday 2 March 1915.

A real live hurricane visited Tenindewa on Thursday night last. (25th February 1915)

Things began to get lively about 9.00 PM and up to 11.00 PM we had just as full and exciting time as anyone would wish and some very close calls to a funeral occurred. However, they say all’s well that ends well and this is so far as life is concerned.

The wind must have reached 80 miles per hour (130 kilometers per hour) and every building I know of must have suffered. To commence with, Mr. Fry’s new residence suffered by the loss of a few sheets of iron and his late residence, a fairly large iron building, was blown to the ground.

Mr. Leo Critch had his house flattened entirely. Fortunately he and his brother Tom happened to be away for the night camped on a job they were doing. At the height of the storm they left their tent and not long after a huge York gum fell right across it, breaking their bunks.

Mr. Sid Green, the railway ganger, (“ganger” denotes the man in charge of the gang) suffered too. A large York gum fell right across his house, on the portion that the Post Office is kept in, crushing it flat to the ground. They were all in the adjoining room and they lost no time in vacating it and passed the rest of the night in the Railway Goods Shed. The Telephone Room at the same place is now standing wrong end up.

Mr. Stokes had to strain all his muscles to hang onto his house all night.

Mr. Tom Shaw had a very trying time too and had just managed to get his wife, who had fainted, from the house when it turned over.(see note at bottom of page)

Messes Palmer and Johnson also suffered by the loss of iron etc. Fortunately Mr. Palmer had plenty of assistance so they managed to hold their roof together. Mr. Johnson and his family had to pass the night under his dray and it rained inches (one inch is 25mm) during that time, but all the outhouses were destroyed.

Brenkley Bros house turned partly over and is uninhabitable.

Mr. Stafford lost all of his outhouses and found some of his iron; some he thinks is down Mingenew way and he is not looking for it. A few sheets of iron came off his residence also. All the settlers suffered to a considerable extent, but a few I have not heard from. The creek is running a banker and the ground is very soft.

Hundreds of York gum trees and others have blown down and in some places acres of trees have been levelled to the ground. It is an ill wind that blown nobody any good and in this case I have heard of a man just closing for a 100 acres (40 hectares) clearing contract and ½ his stuff has been blown over. Anyhow we are not anxious for another blow. It is the worst I have ever seen.

Guardian Note: The storm caused extensive damage to many towns around Geraldton and beyond. Similar stories were received by the Geraldton Guardian from Northampton, Carnarvon, Cue and Mingenew, as well as smaller centers such as Nabewa, Yuna and Tenindewa etc.

2015 Note: Mullewa, according to BOM records received 70 mm of rain from the 24th to the 26th of February and 100 mm for the month: Geraldton very similar: Northampton 100mm for those three days and 140mm for the month and places as far away as Cue with 50mm for the same period. One could imagine rivers such as the Greenough would have run some huge amount of water on that occasion!

Incidentally in roughly same calendar space in 2000 cyclone Steve dumped similar amounts of rain in the area and preceding that, in the NT and QLD. It was the wettest system ever recorded in Australia. (The Tenindewa/Bindu gauge received 100mm from “Steve”)

Guardian Note: Elisabeth (Kember) Shaw was seven months pregnant with her 3rd child Thomas when it happened, so no wonder she fainted. Elisabeth’s young sister, Chris then aged 14, was staying with the family at the time and probably helped Elisabeth through the pregnancy.

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