Tropical thunder

Can you miss weather?  Oddly, the weather I missed the most in England wasn’t sunshine (although I did miss it a lot).  It was the thunderstorms I missed the most.

Traditionally, most Queensland homes had corrugated iron rooves and to this day I love the sound of rain on a ‘tin’ roof (in fact, having a tiled roof like at my mother’s is disappointingly soundproofed and singlehandedly put me off it).

Nature, obviously hearing my cry, has endeavoured to fix my thunder cravings by unleashing a number of super storms on south-east Queensland – and I was caught very much in the middle of it yesterday afternoon.

It started on Saturday with superstorm 1 – it came through our suburb in the morning and ended up causing uprooted trees, fairly major flash flooding and widespread havoc in inner-Brisbane.  Apparently the Bureau of Meteorology logged 1000 lightning strikes in the first 30 minutes.

Saturday evening saw more rain, more thunder and more lightning.  What’s great about a tropical thunderstorm is you don’t need to see it to know it’s coming – you can hear it and feel it.  You’re sitting in the lounge with all windows and doors thrown open – the air is slow and sticky (“muggy”) and the Christmas beetles are buzzing aggressively against the flyscreens, trying to immolate themselves on your lamps.

The cicadas sound like mini lawnmowers as they hum outside and you can hear the occasional squawk of a bird and ribbit of a green tree frog.

Suddenly, you feel a breath of fresh air – it’s pungent with earth and green, growing things; like a hothouse, only cool and crisp.  You hear the wind pick up – it’s gusty and ruffling the palm trees.  Things start jangling outside: windchimes and various hanging ephemera.  They sound urgently unhappy, which belies the very relaxed, distant roll of thunder.  This is my favourite part – when the wind picks up, it’s like adventure is around the corner.

At this point, we’ll normally know if it’s a big storm or not due to warnings, so this is our cue to get out the torches, candles and matches.

I love watching a storm coming in (even in the dark), so I’ll often head outside – watch the sheet lightning and the occasional bolts, and count the seconds until the thunder bellows through.

The rain picks up and goes from softly pattering to violent splattering – pounding against the glass while huge rivers gush from the drain pipes.  I wait until it’s almost on top of us – lightning strike, count 1, 2 – CLAP!  Heavy thunder.  Then a sense of self-preservation asserts itself and I watch from behind the windows.

They rarely last long – the entire process can start and finish within 30 minutes.

Sometimes, they can move even faster and yesterday was such a one, only I was out in the car in the middle of the highway.  Mum and I could see the storm front moving in – it looked really nasty, with a green tinge that means hail:

We estimated we had about 10-15 minutes to get home before it hit.  About 45 seconds after this photo was taken, it unleashed itself upon us.  The driving rain reduced the visibility to virtually zero and then the huge gusts of wind and pelting hail made us pull over to the side of the highway:

We ended up ‘bunny-hopping’ home – driving 50m or so, then realising the visibility got worse every time we tried, stopping, then trying again a few minutes later.  Soon, the highway shoulder was crowded with other cars deciding it was too dangerous to drive:

We did get home eventually and the storm was a lot more fun after we were safely indoors!

We’re back to sunny and mid 30s today – the garden is absolutely loving it and I’m hanging out for my next storm 🙂

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5 thoughts on “Tropical thunder

  1. Living on the Oregon coast, you have to like the rain or you will be miserable 5 months out of the year. I love the rain, and especially a great storm! Even when I lived in Georgia, I would run outside when there was a tornado. Not too bright, I know. But I did get a free ride to the Oregon coast… 😉 Love the writing, Hipster. You captured the excitement of nature’s power and drama. The fact that we’re getting pounded by rain as I read this was like nature’s Surround Sound! Thanks for the beautiful writing.

    • Thank you 🙂

      My grade two teacher was from Oregon – he was my favourite teacher in all my years at primary school. Mostly because he got his daughter in to teach us ‘bubble writing’. I would love to visit the west coast of the States – the coastal scenery of Washington state/Canada seems to be particularly gorgeous. And tornadoes! Ok, I know how dangerous they are but I’ve been tempted to go on one of those tornado chasing group things. Nature is the best 🙂

    • I love dramatic weather – I kept hoping for a good snow storm in England (extra bonus points if the trainline was snowed in and I couldn’t get to work) but it never eventuated. Some of the most beautiful photoes of lightning I’ve seen have been taken in your neck of the woods!

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