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.”
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.
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.
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.
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?