Scary Storms and Super Cell Freaks: Never a Dull Day in Queensland

Queensland storm photos - on Sunrise

Image by Sunrise On 7


I must’ve really settled into the land of the laid back.

“It’ll be alright,” I said to Paul setting off on our weekend bike ride. “It won’t hit for a few hours”. What? A few years back, we would’ve been battoning down the hatches and sitting on the sofa with cushions taped to our heads.

As usual, I checked the weather bureau website before we set out on our ride at 8am. It said a big storm was brewing and it was due to hit around midday. We went anyway.

You’d think we’d know better after being caught up in Brisbane’s most devastating floods on record only a couple of years ago.

About an hour into the ride, the weather was so glorious, we decided to extend it. “It’ll be alright,” we said, “plenty of time before the storm arrives.”

We were on our way back around 10.30am when we felt the first rain spots. “It’ll be alright, we’re only about 12 kilometres from home,” we reassured each other as we heard the first rumbles in the distance. “We’ll easily make it back before midday.”


Storm Brewing Beauty Brisbane City

Storm Brewing Beauty Brisbane City


A few minutes later, the sky was dark grey, thunder claps deafened, two little dogs were charging up and down the road, fretting and panicking. As we jumped off the bikes to pick them up, we could see the swirling and whirling “super cell” freak storm charging towards us flinging debris in all directions.


11,000 lightning strikes reported

11,000 lightning strikes reported – Photo by ashkyd


We grabbed the dogs and stood under a tree. Quickly realising our error, we made a dash to a doorway.  Then, with missiles whizzing and dogs still freaking out, we spotted a carpark under a building where, after dodging an industrial wheelie bin trundling down the road with a life all of its own, we sat listening to the deafening howl, cracks and thuds of just a few of the 11,000 lightning strikes that hit the city in the space of twenty minutes or so.


Doggie Rescue


We emerged with our calmer four-legged friends to piles of debris and toppled trees split by fork lightening bolts and news of the weather bureau getting flack for misjudging the timing of the storm. Some corners of the press were already on auto witch hunt and after a head to roll.

The weather bureau hit back at claims that it had dropped the crystal ball and not issued timely warnings. A statement said the freak event was “difficult to predict in detail” and that it had only started to show signs of severe storm characteristics as it approached the central business district.

If we’re going to play the blame game for nature doing its natural thing, shouldn’t we be pointing the finger at ourselves? After all, anyone who watched or checked the weather knew a storm was on its way. Almost everyone was talking about it the day before. We took a chance and went out with the full knowledge the weather was going to turn nasty that day.

Post Storm Debris

And there’s no shortage of good advice from Emergency Management Queensland:

  • Move your car under cover or away from trees.
  •  Secure loose outdoor items. (Ooops)
  • Avoid driving, walking or riding through flood waters. (Ooops)
  • Seek shelter, preferably indoors and never under trees. (Ooops)
  • Avoid using the telephone during a thunderstorm.
  • Beware of fallen trees and powerlines.

On the brighter side of things, the sky soon returned to its familiar sparkling blue. We took the dogs to the local vet who found microchip IDs and quickly reunited them with their very relieved owners. Then, watching out for fallen power lines, we cycled back to an open windowed slightly soggy house with rearranged outdoor furniture and scoffed a well overdue brunch, eau de wet dog.


Have you ever been caught up in a weather dilemma?

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Tracey Croke is a journalist, travel writer, photographer and adventurist, specialising in stories about roughty-toughty travel, offtrack adventure and anything involving a bike Follow Tracey on Google +

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12 Responses to Scary Storms and Super Cell Freaks: Never a Dull Day in Queensland

  1. Joanna November 29, 2012 at 2:44 pm #

    Sounds hectic – glad that you managed to get out unharmed but love your gung-ho attitude!
    Joanna recently posted..3 Funky Cafes in The South WestMy Profile

  2. axeman November 30, 2012 at 1:48 pm #

    Nice one Tracy- just one comment though…..I know you’re a pretty speedy cyclist but your paragraph starting ‘Around midday’ implies you could cover 12km in just a few mins!

  3. axeman November 30, 2012 at 1:53 pm #

    Sorry I left the e out Tracey and I also forgot to say I LOVE the caricature- it’s absolutely perfect.

  4. Katie December 1, 2012 at 1:26 am #

    Sounds like a true adventure!
    Katie recently posted..The A-Holes of History: The University of Tartu Student Lock-UpMy Profile

  5. Tracey December 1, 2012 at 7:16 pm #

    Life would be dull without a little calamity and chaos every now and then
    Tracey recently posted..Never a Dull Day in QueenslandMy Profile

  6. Anita Mac February 11, 2013 at 2:27 pm #

    That is insane. Lucky you guys didn’t run into any serious trouble!!! I remember skirting a major storm up near Newcastle on a weekend ride/camping trip. We managed to stay dry but came back to devestation as the campground had been hit. Luckily, my friend had moved her car as a tree had come crashing down and would have flattened the car! No cyclists were hurt on this ride…but we were really lucky!
    Anita Mac recently posted..Postcard from the Montreal Bucket ListMy Profile

    • Tracey February 12, 2013 at 2:58 pm #

      Sounds like you had a lucky escape too. I noticed a lot of the fallen trees were hollowed out (with termites I guess) so you never know which one is gonna come down. Our BlackWolf tent has survived some ferocious weather but I wouldn’t like to be camping under trees in a bad storm.
      Tracey recently posted..Making Round-the-World Travel PlansMy Profile

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