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'Once-in-a-decade' storm leaves 50,000 without power, triggers dust storms in Australia

Video recorded in Western Australia showed the wind picking up large swaths of dust as gusts were recorded as high as 72 mph in some regions.

An estimated 50,000 people in Western Australia are without power as a rare weather event batters the coast, with winds as high as 72 mph in some areas.

Severe weather warnings were in place Sunday as thousands of Australians braced to be hit with the remnants of former Tropical Cyclone Mangga, the storm system bringing deadly winds and threatening tides with it. Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology said that the those on the coast between Kalbarri and Augusta could see harmful storm tides and dangerous flooding well into Sunday.

Jon Broomhall, acting assistant commissioner of Western Australia’s department of fire and emergency services, called the storm “a once-in-a-decade-type system.”

“Normally our storms come from the southwest, and this will come from the northwest, so it will test people’s buildings, sheds and all those unsecured items," Broomhall said. "So we’re asking people to secure property and make sure everything loose is tied down."

Gusts came in as high as 72 mph in Gooseberry Hill and 68 mph in Rottnest Island, according to the Bureau of Meteorology. Video recorded in Geraldton and Northampton showed the wind picking up large swaths of dust.

There were reports of damaged homes and businesses across the region as the storm continued on into the night.

Western Power reported at least 50,000 of its customers were without power Sunday, as debris thrown by the gales hit power lines and damaged equipment. The company had 70 crews working on the hazards to its network but customers should plan to be without power overnight, Western Power said in a statement Sunday.

“We will not attempt any repair work during the storm because operating elevated work platforms (cherrypickers) and other equipment is not safe to do so because of the dangerous winds,” Western Power said.