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ABC News
ABC News

Pilbara rain records tumble as unseasonal weather floods Northwest Coastal Highway again

Heavy rains sweeps across Pilbara (Supplied: Harley Coventry, Pauline Retz, Kylie Boyle, Jasmine Ellison)

Pelting rain across the Pilbara during May has seen the Northwest Coastal Highway closed twice, other major roads flooded, and 11 sites break rainfall records.

Thevenard Island has broken a 20-year rainfall record for the month of May, with the Bureau of Meteorology saying the island has recorded 298.6 millimetres so far this month.

Varanus Island has recorded a whopping 413.4mm in May so far, breaking a record that's stood since 2005.

Other sites which have broken all-time rainfall records include Mardie, Mount Florance, Yarraloola Homestead, Coolawanyah, Yalleen, Karratha Aero, Sherlock and Red Hill.

The Red Hill record fell after the gauge received 145.2mm of rain on Sunday.

More sites could be added to the list when final rainfall figures for the month come in on Tuesday. 

Bureau of Meteorology meteorologist Jessica Lingard said 17 additional sites have tabled their highest rainfall in 20 years, and while they were not record-breakers, multiple towns have seen more than 50mm of rain.

"Since 9am yesterday, Roebourne has been the top performer with 105mm of rainfall reported there, Port Hedland's had 80mm and Karratha's had 75mm," she said.

Wet weather warnings

The Department of Fire and Emergency Service (DFES) has had 21 requests for assistance for its SES units over the weekend.

"Some of those were for sandbags and most of those were for minor events," Pilbara district officer Garth Lawrence said.

Mr Lawrence said it took about 30 centimetres of water travelling over the road to destabilise a vehicle, including four-wheel drives.

"Stay inside, stay dry, and don't drive through the floodwaters," he said.

Mr Lawrence said DFES crews put themselves at risk every time they went out to help people.

Ongoing DFES alerts are urging campers and caravaners near rivers to leave and seek higher ground as soon as possible.

Main Roads Western Australia customer service manager Cassandra Neave said motorists could avoid trouble by checking the Main Roads Travel Map ahead of a drive.

"We did have a few people stuck at sideways over the weekend and that's why we advise motorists to check out our travel map on the Main Roads website or to call the 138 138 number to get the latest information about road conditions before they actually travel," Ms Neave said.

Rain clouds hover over Warambie Estate in Karratha. (Supplied: Melisha Leggett)

Rainy days ahead

Ms Lingard said the heavy rainfall was the result of an unseasonal north-west cloud band.

"Yet another cloud band has formed through the region, I think that makes it the fifth for the month," she said.

On Monday, the bureau is expecting between 100mm to 150mm of rainfall around Port Hedland, as far west as Karratha, and inland towards Marble Bar.

Between 30mm to 80mm is expected in the Onslow area, including areas as inland as Paraburdoo and Newman.

Throughout the remaining areas of the Pilbara, Ms Lingard said people could expect 10mm to 30mm.

On Tuesday, she said the forecast is for 20mm to 50mm around the Pilbara while Broome will score more rainfall as well.

On Wednesday, the rain is expected to clear as the cloud band breaks up.

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