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 🙂