Saturday, March 14, 2009

Stormy intervals

I love a good storm, but then again that's because I don't live in Tornado Alley in America's midwest, or in the Caribbean, or in tropical Australia, where hurricanes put another factor of 10 on top of what I consider to be a good storm. I guess people in those parts of the world could do without pop-gun storm-lovers like me. But that doesn't stop me liking a good, quick little Sydney storm. We had one pass through late yesterday, and it gave the garden a lovely, deep drink without doing a lot of damage.

While we can cop storms here from all sorts of directions, the south-west is the most reliable point of entry, and here's our little storm approaching late in the afternoon.

I'm a weather radar addict when storms approach. My part of the world is closest to the area marked Sydney Ap (airport) on the mid-section of coast. The yellow bit in the radar image contains the heaviest rain – and all the lightning – and it passed straight overhead.

Only minutes away now and the dark cloudy bits look perfectly primed for a large, judgmental hand to reach down and smite someone. Alas, nothing of the sort happened and instead large blobs of water splattered down slowly, the advanced guard of the assault suggesting that it'd be a great idea for all boys with cameras to go inside now.

The front path becomes shiny, the thirsty hedges say 'thanks' for the drink and the wash-down, and moments later the real fun begins.

Within 30 seconds the rain changes from blobs to streams to grey torrents; gutters become rivers and strong trees sag under the weight of water.

Out the back of the house the pergola springs a leak where it attaches to the house and water starts streaming down the glass blocks that form part of our back wall. "Will you please stop taking photos and help mop up the water?" says someone far more sensible than me, as she lays towels against the back door, to stop the seepage getting in. You always know when it's really raining hard here, our leaky pergola lets us know.

Two really close lightning strikes this time round, one just across the road. What a terrifying, loud, violent sound close lightning is. Yet, 20 minutes later and it's all over. The street tree glistens after its wash and picks it head up, shaking its leaves free of water in the breezes, just like a wet dog.

The only 'damage' to speak of is pair of the potted, scented-leaf pelargoniums, which were due for a trim tomorrow anyway, as they've grown too lush and a bit too big for their pots. The intensity of the rain and the weight of the wet foliage has bent them over. A bit of remedial trimming, and maybe a bit of tying a staking behind the scenes, should attend to their immediate needs.

Just a bit under one inch (25mm) of rain in 20 minutes is the harvest, a wonderful gift for the garden. March is meant to be our wettest month, with 131mm of rain on average, and so far we've had just 30mm of rain by the 14th.( A second storm later last night added another 15mm of rain, so the soil is much happier now.)

That was just a playful, helpful little 20-minute storm. I can't imagine what a hurricane would be like. I hope I never experience one, quite frankly. Nor a tornado. But as for our late-summer/early autumn temperate storms, they're common enough, and occasionally quite deadly if you're in the path of a falling tree, or taking shelter under one when lightning strikes (and these things do happen) but most of the time they're just a bath for the garden and a reminder that nature, in its fury, is the most powerful thing on Earth.


Chookie said...

That photo of the rain falling on your street is a classic Sydney downpour photo! We weren't home for the first storm but had to unplug things for the evening storm, which was a humdinger. Lightning so close we had to unplug everything, and the storm was unusually long. 23mm in total here; we are west of you, and drier.

Jamie said...

Know what you mean about unplugging! Everything was shut down as the storm approached. I lost two computer modems in a lightning storm about three years ago, so we go into unplug mode the moment we see lightning in the distance.

Jenny said...

We are a little more west than you & we managed a nice 32mm in all. Storms are my phobia so when the evening one hit my fingers were in my ears, and all the shutters on the house were down. In the past we have had broken windows from hail, and we also lost a modem & automatic gate motor due to a lightening strike just on 2 years ago. I unplugged my PC & sewing machine but that was all. This was a nice drop for my garden & made an easy job of weed pulling yesterday.

Arwen from Hoglet K said...

Nice storm shots. I love the weather radar too.

Michelle said...

Wow, a good storm is exciting and really quite rare around here. We don't even get lightning very often. Although last June we had dry lightning that sent a big chunk of California up in smoke, over 2,000 wildfires started. We're moving out of our rainy season now with a 3rd year of below average rainfall, perhaps looking forward to water rationing this summer. It is refreshing to see such generous rainfall!

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