February 28th, 2007 at 06:57am
Well that was quite a storm last night, here is what happened.
Approximately 8:40pm a storm cell developed without warning to the west of Canberra and rapidly moved south-east whilst growing. It produced quite a bit of rain in the Tuggeranong and Weston Creek areas, but dissipated after a while. Before it was gone though, a new storm cell developed about half way between here and Yass, it rapidly moved in the same direction as the previous storm, but was destined for the inner north and west parts of Canberra.
This second storm produced lightning at an amazing rate (one flash every couple of seconds), and produced an immense amount of light, the light show went on for a while and I spent some time watching it through my bedroom window. Around 10:30 things really started to pick up with a small amount of rain and hail, it gradually got worse, and with a complete lack of any information from the Emergency Services Authority and broadcast media, I decided to contact the Bureau of Meteorology (by mobile, not landline)…the local office was shut so I called its Sydney parent office, I informed the meteorologist of the size of the hail and he then, after checking my location, informed me that it was going to get a whole lot worse…the radar was telling him that 6cm hail was less than a minute from my house…he was right, and before I knew it the roof and various windows were under attack…the upper floor was abandoned as there was no way to know whether or not the roof was going to hold, some walls could be felt shaking slightly under the constant pounding.
Just before 11pm I decided to do something about the lack of broadcast information and call Stuart Bocking on 2UE, and therefore 2CC…they had the news coming up, so they rang me back after the news, by which time the hail had (more or less) stopped and I gave Stuart a run-down of what had happened. My call then opened the flood gates as people started ringing in with their storm stories.
After this I went and took a whole heap of photos…I also recorded a video but I haven’t had a chance to review it, so I’ll make do with the photos for now.
First up inside the house, the spot where the tree hit in December 2005 still leaks a bit in heavy rain, but it has never soaked the toilet roll before (reminds me of the time I poured water into a tissue box in year 4 and found that they all stuck together…the teacher was not impressed).
Ainslie Avenue was interesting, the median strip was flooded for a little while, as was the other side of the road…it had mostly cleared by the time I got there. The melting hail was also creating a fog, which was slowly getting thicker.
An elderly lady who lives near me had water flood her roof, and pour out of various spots, including a smoke detector! I managed to get the SES team who were finishing up across the road to come over and help.
I would like to condemn the Emergency Services Authority for not issuing any “All Hazards Alerts” at all, even after a storm warning from the Bureau (first time they haven’t responded to one of those for a while), and effectively therefore not getting the media on standby, and the public (at least to some extent) prepared…if the ESA had been doing their job, local media would have had people at work before the storm struck, and they would have had the all hazards siren alerts broadcasting everywhere…instead it was a pure surprise to just about everyone.
Update 6:44pm: ESA are blaming Telstra and Optus for not getting the text messages out to journalists…doesn’t quite explain the website, but under the circumstances I would be willing to exonerate them. They have admitted that they need to improve the efficiency of they emergency communications though.End Update
I would, however, like to highly praise the SES, Fire Brigade, Roads ACT and the Police who have been busy all night with the storm recovery…they all deserve every bit of praise they get, and probably more.
I’ve heard some reports of damage in Civic so I might take the camera for a little stroll down that way to see what has happened. If there is anything worth photographing then you can expect more photos later.
Incidentally, the temperature and rain since 9am statistics from the Bureau of Meteorology are quite interesting.
Entry Filed under: Canberra Stories