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CASS News

Tropical cyclone Seroja and our sites in Western Australia

Tropical cyclone Seroja crossed the coast of Western Australia north of the city of Geraldton overnight.

We're currently in touch with our staff based in Geraldton and all are safe and there are no reports of serious damage to their homes. The Murchison Support Facility (MSF) in Geraldton is currently running on backup generator.

The roads to the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) and Boolardy Station accommodation facility are closed. Our staff and contractors there report they experienced wind and rain, although not extreme, and are all safe. We have a backup phone service and satellite phones so we can keep in touch.

Our ASKAP telescope is undamaged but currently parked in its 'safe' state because of the high risk that power outages across the area will impact the network connection to the MRO.

Assessments will continue over coming days as site access to the MSF and MRO allows.

We'll provide further updates for our astronomy community here on the ATNF website as they become available.

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*Update 23 April 2021*

We're pleased to report that there was no damage to the MSF or MRO as a result of cyclone Seroja. However, it caused significant damage to other properties and power infrastructure along the Western Australian coastline and its inland track.

Loss of grid power to Geraldton, the MSF and surrounding regions has been the main cause for concern. Approximately 30,000 people were without power for several days and the network repeater stations that support the link from ASKAP back to Geraldton and Perth have been running on battery backup or generator power.

Effects at the MRO were minimal, with windspeeds remaining below 65 km/hr and only 5 mm of rain. All roads to the MRO are now open and travel to/from the site is back to normal.

Given the increased risk of sudden network loss and the disruption to MSF operations, we kept ASKAP in standby mode. As of 15 April, services have been restored to the MSF and we have now resumed normal ASKAP operations.

Added by Gabby Russell on 2021-04-12

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