The good news is that crossing the Nullarbor is one caravanning experience which can be a lot lot easier if you plan ahead and pay a close watch on the wind and weather in the region during your planned crossing.
This is where the Bureau of Meteorology can help, with a station located at Eucla, which is about 1436km east of Perth, it has the best view on the area from the top of the Escarpment. Eucla is also a popular overnight stopover in its own right, it's about 11km from the WA/SA border on the Eyre Highway. The station has been around since 1876 so there is lot of local in the knowledge compiled there and visitors are also always very welcome.
Much of the caravanning advice and data on the weather-casting from the Bureau of Meteorology in Perth actually comes through the Wind Frequency Analyses and Wind Roses based on data gathered from 1957 to 2022 at Eucla.
Eucla Met Station
In analysing this data the seasons are divided up into – Autumn which is March, April and May. Winter is classified as June, July and August. Spring is September, October and November and Summer is December, January and February.
The analysis of the data taken from the Wind Roses, which give an easily digested impression of wind regimes, the months in order most likely to have winds kind to caravanning are May closely followed by June and April.
The Wind Frequency Analysis indicates the percentage of all observations that fall within a specified range of wind speeds and directions. We aggregated the percentage values for winds of 21km/h or more and found that August to March is the windiest period. The figures are based on '9am and 3pm' readings, but checking the Met. Bureau notes show that the '9am' readings are actually taken anywhere between 7.30am and 10am.
This leads to some useful coastal winds knowledge. In May the north and northeast winds total a percentage value of 44. Add the west and northwest and the value jumps up to 70. Total All Winds value which produces a 33 for winds of 1 to 10 km/h. Now those seem pretty good odds for caravans.
The '9am' north and northeast wind pattern dominates in April, May and June with some shifts to the west and northwest.
The '3pm' values show much more influence of winds from the ocean. In May the wind is east, southeast and south at a total value of 56 and the value of all winds 0 to 10 km/h is 39. Again this is good wind value for caravanning.
The strong afternoon sea breeze is a factor from the east, southeast and south in January, February, March and into April, although the possibility of winds of 21km/h or more drops to total values of April 34, May 24, June 28 and July 33.
Compare these with the equivalent values for August 37, September 42, October 48, November 53, December 54, January 43, February 49 and March 45 and be prepared for some heavy going.
What are the best travel times according to the data?
In the summer, if you must go, plan to travel to avoid the hottest parts of the day.
Generally mornings look better in the Eucla Wind Frequency Analysis, but never forget the dent active wildlife can make in holiday plans.
And for those who have not had the unhappy experience of cooking a perfectly good motor it is worth noting that long spells with the prevailing wind pulling a heavy caravan can cause damage and possibly fry the engine.
So be sure your cooling systems are 100 per cent before undertaking the journey. If your fans can’t suck enough air through the radiator because you are running too long and too hot downwind in what amounts to a vacuum, the motor will really start to suffer.
Keep a watchful eye on the weather via the BOM website or download the BOM app and pay very close attention to the coastal and land wind warnings.
If you hit a big gale, patience works. If you can, sit it out. If you must drive take it easy. Even the strongest winds often drop in the evening and into early morning. But kangaroos, camels and wombats are 'night owls' so weigh up the risks. Take your time and you will be fine.
Eucla Telegraph Station
CampingAustralia acknowledges thanks to the material supplied by Western Australian Regional Office of the Bureau of Meteorology Perth.
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