Friday, February 04, 2005


... which, if movie titles are anything to go by, is meant to translate from the Hopi as 'water out of balance'. I wanted to use the word 'weather', but couldn't find anything on the web. (and I've probably just committed lexical genocide in Hopi!)
All of which is meant as a lead-in for that perennial topic the weather: of which Melbourne and SE Australia has been getting more than its fair share of in the last couple of days.

It began on Tuesday evening... no, before we get to that, let me mention a strange precursor on early Tuesday morning, when people from all over Melbourne reported a brilliant flash of light around 3am, followed by a long drawn out rumble. Earthquake? Meteor? It turned out to have been a massive lightning strike, that vented its spleen on a power pole in Melton (power pole ceased to be)

In the light of happened next, it could have been accompanied by heavenly voices proclaiming:
'Dis be da spot: right hee-ya!' (Hopi trans.?)
Tuesday was, on the whole, a typical summer's day, with temperatures in the low thirties.

Move forward to Tuesday evening, when an active front came barreling in from the Southern Ocean. Nothing unusual in that and, while we're recovering from the recent drought, the more rain we get at this time of year, the better (or so we thought!)

In the normal run of events, said front would have come in, dumped 10 mm or so in a couple of hours, and continued on its merry way.

Not this time.

First of all, the front stalled in the middle of Victoria.

Next, a low pressure cell developed and intensified... around about Seymour way.

...and the rain came down, and down, and down.

Top temperature for the day? 13 degrees celsius (that's a cold snap in the middle of winter hereabouts, what is it in the middle of summer?)

Come Wednesday evening, the entire state was awash, while NSW was getting lashed by severe electrical storms.

...and the rain came down, and down, and down.

Seems like there was more water in the sky than on the ground.

Wednesday night, the low system, still stationed over central Victoria, expanded to include northern Tasmania, and the wind got up to full gale strength. A clayton's cyclone, picking up strength over land (hmm!). Trees uprooted, the Yarra bursting its banks in Southbank (ie 'downtown' Melbourne) and the Tasmanian ferry being forced to turn back in the face of a 20 meter swell. At least, 20 meters is what was reported. Given that an 8 meter swell is bad storm weather and that the Boxing Day tsunami was supposedly of about the same height, it's hard to credit. However, passengers were telling tales of waves breaking over the deck, and they're pretty big ships!

Come Thursday morning, 200mm of rain had fallen and, while the main fury had abated, rain continued during the day as people struggled to work between the fallen trees, power poles and raging torrents (I was relatively lucky).

It is now Friday afternoon (Feb 4), and that pressure system is still there, currently sitting right over Melbourne. While it isn't a solid rain mass any longer (even some sunshine!), the weather radar still shows some substantial squalls circling around, like wolves.


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