A few people have asked if I am OK with the nasty weather we’ve been having recently. I must answer that question with a question. How big is Australia? I don’t want this to be another geography lesson, but even I didn’t truly grasp the size of this place until today. My home state was hit by a cyclone this week. (read the last 2 paragraphs for a uniquely Australian perspective on natural disasters). More
For anyone not familiar with the term cyclone, it’s a hurricane. Except that just like our bath water it spins the other way. And Larry was the same intensity as Katrina when it arrived (yes, including 300kph [180mph] winds and sideways rain).
The first I knew of it was when my mother came to visit on Tuesday and told me she hadn’t heard from her brother since the cyclone hit the previous night. Her brother lives on Hamilton Island which is a resort island in the Great Barrier Reef region. Cyclone Larry (yes we give them names the same as American hurricanes) crossed the coast about 500km (300mi) from where he lives.
I have attached a map showing the tracking of another cyclone – called Mati – that is building up in the same region. The first one took the same route except it didn’t turn south 500km (300mi) off the coast. It just kept going west and is now a rain depression about 1500km (900mi) inland. My uncle lives on the island below the W in the town name Bowen and the first cyclone crossed the coast at Innisfail so he definitely got some rain and a bit of wind. I live directly in the path of cyclone number 2 roughly 100km (60mi) off the bottom of the map. The wind here for the last day or so has been 40kph (25mph) gusting to 65kph (40mph) with a little bit of rain.
Have no fear, we have suitable insurance. And besides, one of these things hasn’t crossed the coast south of Rockhampton (look on the map) since 1974. Although that probably just means we’re due. The area I live in is a bit like North Carolina/Virginia… hurricanes rarely reach us here but when they do it’s an almighty mess.
On the whole Australia normally rides these things out fairly well. Partly because the majority of these storms hit the part of the country where nobody lives (Queensland is two and a half times the size of Texas with a population of around 4 million). And partly because we don’t build cities below sea level like New Orleans and the ones we build at the mouths of rivers are predominantly build high on the rocky cliffs overlooking things like Sydney Harbour, Moreton Bay and Port Phillip Bay. If you live here you definitely need to worry more about sharks than the ocean overtopping levy banks.
bumper sticker of the week:
If you’re going