A mini-tornado tore through the southern suburb of Waikiki last night, ripping off roofs, smashing dozens of fences and car ports and tearing up trees.

Gusts blowing more than 110km/h damaged about 60 houses, even ripping off air conditioning units, when the storm hit streets east of the Waikiki shopping centre.

A Weather Bureau spokesman said the actual tornado lasted about 60 seconds but the storm dropped about 40mm of rain.

Fire and Emergency Services Authority operations and training officer Chris Hudson said about 30 volunteers from Rockingham, Serpentine/Jarrahdale, Armadale and Wanneroo SES units responded to call-outs with volunteers from Mandurah, Murray, Northam and Bunbury working through the night.

"The worst affected area in Rockingham was Cooloongup and Waikiki which experienced destructive winds causing major damage to a number of roofs," he said.

"In some cases whole air-conditioning units have been ripped off leaving gaping holes.

"SES volunteers spent the night placing tarps on damaged rooves and removing fallen trees.

"Our SES volunteers have done a wonderful job supporting those residents affected by the storms, with many going to their normal employment once the callouts have been completed.

"Fellow Bush Fire Brigade volunteers and career Fire and Rescue Service firefighters have also assisted."

More than 3000 people were without power for about five hours in the Rockingham-Waikiki area and hundreds more were blacked out from Yallingup to Collie, Manjimup to Northam and throughout the metropolitan area.

Mary Davis and husband Bob who live in Dundas Ct Waikiki lost their garage doors, a window, parts of their roof and all their garden fences.

"It was scary, very, very scary,'' Mrs Davis said.

"The noise was shocking.

"There was a huge bang as a power pole went down at the end of the street and as I looked out the window I could see the tornado coming down the street.

"It amazed me the way it twisted around.

"It was twisting and blowing and only lasted a minute or so but noise was roaring, it was shocking.
"I just looked and looked. I was so stunned I didn't know what to do.

"We went into the hall looked up through the trap door and we could see the sky where parts of the roof had been blown off.

"My husband managed to get up their with a tarpaulin so we didn't get a lot of water damage.

"How the devil my big front window didn't blow in I'll never know.

"One of my car port doors was blown off its hinges, that's up the garden.

"The other one is just hanging on.

"Fences all rounds are down.''

Rockingham City Council deputy mayor Richard Smith was on the streets when the tornado blew through.

"The storm was blowing pretty hard at first and then it went really dark,'' Mr Smith said.

"The tornado had skipped over the coast and then about three or four kilometres in came to ground.

"There was a huge wind and then it went all quiet. It was kind of eerie.

"It looks like it ripped the guts out of some streets but while the damage is fairly widespread it is moderate to severe.

"Some ceilings are in danger of collapse and we have inspectors checking pools that have become exposed with fences down.

"Some pools would have overflowed.''

About 100 volunteers were patching roofs, clearing streets and inspecting damage this morning.
Western Power said the storm cut a major feeder station brought down a high voltage power line and, poles and debris and tin from roofs caused other blackouts.

"There was a lot of damage down the length of the line and it needed a a physical inspection that took several hours but just about all power was on about 12.30am.

The severe weather warning for widespread damaging winds and destructive gusts has been cancelled.

Showers are predicted for the next two days with heavy storms on Friday.

The SES had 70 calls to damage in the Rockingham-Waikiki area, and a few in the the south-west, Albany, Mandurah, Australind, Cockburn and across the metropolitan area from the Hills to Melville and Wanneroo.

Despite the wild weather Perth is still 57mm down for the July average and 210mm down on the average of 552mm for the year to date.