When it rains, it pours -- pray for Marg and her countrymen!

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by gcvmom, Feb 1, 2011.

  1. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

  2. SearchingForRainbows

    SearchingForRainbows Active Member

    Many prayers being said...
  3. Mamaof5

    Mamaof5 Guest

    For crying out loud...like Australia needs this now...PRAYERS AND HUGS!
  4. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    Adding in my prayers
  5. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Stay safe Marg & Marg's Man!! We will be praying for you and yours!

    There is a huge winter storm in the US, too, that is looking to be pretty dangerous.

    Wishing everyone safety!
  6. HaoZi

    HaoZi Guest

    EEP! I lived through Katrina, and those storm surges are no joke, they can go really far inland through the existing waterways to places you'd never expect. Those winds can knock down things you thought would never budge, too. Stay safe y'all, I'll be thinking of you!
  7. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    We personally are too far south for this to be life-threatening for us. We will get weather effects but frankly, we will welcome any rain and storm we can get here, s overflow. But not at the expense of our countrymen north. Here we are in the second or third day (I'm losing count) of extreme heatwave, and it will only be the flow-on from the cyclone breaking the heatwave if the effects reach us. We are still going to break all previous records for heatwave here.

    Now to Queensland - those poor (insert Aussie word which technically means children of unmarried parents, but in Australia has very complex and non-derogatory meanings). The rain will be falling on ground still waterlogged from pre-Christmas floods, the ones Oprah flew over. The floods that were happening when Oprah went to air were a continuation and the vast bulk of the fatalities were due to that one nasty "inland tsunami" that hit Toowoomba and the Lockyer Valley. Before that and after that, much of Queensland was flooded. The more coastal flood emptied at Brisbane (the capital) which almost broke records. The more inland flood continued south to the bottom of Australia and is I believe still affecting that area. But not so severely - it has lost a lot along the way.

    Australia, geographically, is one of the flattest countries in the world. It is the flattest continent. We have one major mountain range, it is down the east coast of Australia, a varying distance inland. It runs like a backbone inland from the east coast, similar to the Rockies in the US (only longer). Rain often doesn't get over the mountains, which is why Australia is such a dry continent. But with these floods - it rained heavily on both sides. To the west - the rivers run south. Huge river basins, mostly dry as a rule, filled up. To the east of the mountains it built up and caused the sudden surge that was so horrifying. But at least it eventually found its way out to sea without travelling thousands of kilometres.

    Now - those areas further north are still soggy. And they're about to get FEET of rain. I'm watching the morning news now, the storm is beginning to be felt, on a wider scale than predicted. Police and the army have been knocking on doors in areas now identified as in the path of the increasingly high storm surge. Areas previously believed to be safe - are not.

    Major General Mick Slater has been put in charge of the Queensland flood recovery, and (I gather) is also in charge of the evacuation/preparation for the cyclone. He's on repeated warning announcements in the media, repeating the evacuation procedures. Just to confirm - cyclone = hurricane. We just have a different name for it.

    We have almost run out of time for people to evacuate. The airport at Innisfail will close in less than two hours and the winds are already rising there. Large shopping malls are being used as shelters, but it's similar to the football stadium in New Orleans - no facilities there, it's just a roof over people's heads to keep them alive. Power is likely to be out and those places can get DARK. I wouldn't want to be there - but then, I wouldn't want to stay in a home that couldn't survive. This is a tourist area and a lot of the tourists don't speak English. Police are walking up to people in the street as well as knocking on doors.

    Building codes in the area are good. But are they THIS good? That is why people are so anxious.

    In Australia we've had some nasty cyclones in recent years. Cyclone Tracy hit Darwin in 1974 on Christmas Day, it was so unexpected that nobody realised for a day or so, that the town had been badly damaged. We saw the New Orleans footage and it reminded us of Darwin after Tracy. But Darwin has been rebuilt now, stronger. And Tracy = would fit inside the EYE of this cyclone! Tracy was described as a midget hurricane - tiny but intense.

    About three years ago this same part of Queensland in trouble now, was hit by Cyclone Larry. That was category 4. This is category 5, plus many times bigger.

    Storm surge - a king tide is due at 9 pm. Storm surge is expected on top of this - at least 2 metres, some say three metres. That would be 10 feet. And it would slam in, and late at night. In the dark - no power. They don't wait for the power to fail, they will be shutting it off early, as they did in Brisbane. That way they can protect circuitry etc and speed up post-cyclone recovery.

    Yasi is huge. 1000 km across, the eye is 100 km across. It is coming in straight, not deviating, so they are confident in predicting its path.

    We do get cyclones in the northern part of Australia at this time of the year. But this is huge. Again, fuelled by La Nina. But this is a warmer La Nina than usual, which is probably why Yasi is so big.

    They just said on the news - an hour ago the cyclone reached Willis Island, early winds recorded at 190 km/hr in their first report. They have not reported since - the weather bureau believe the weather station has been destroyed.

    This will be bad, but as in the floods (perhaps even more so), emergency services start their work before the catastrophe, to minimise the loss of life and damage. Our army and police have legal powers in such a crisis, but they don't abuse these powers. It is what we do to survive as a nation. This works for us, when life throws crud at you.

    I repeat - we are fine. We will be fine. This is all happening 2000 km away. I know the cyclone is half that size, but that's diameter. We're 2000 km from the eye, which means the edge of the cyclone is 1500 km from us.

    It will hit tonight or tomorrow morning, in the wee small hours. But everything is being done now, that an be done, to keep people as safe as possible. Evacuation window is just about closed now. After that - prayer.

  8. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Update - a different news report said it is 500 km across. I need to confirm.

    Willis Island - three staff there had already left, the monitoring equipment was on automatic. But with Willis Island monitoring gone, they can only use satellite tracking to see where the cyclone is going. No more data on wind strength.

    It's coming in over a very warm tropical sea, so we don't know how big when it gets here.

    Press conference now with Queensland premier (standing beside her is someone signing for the deaf). The storm surge risk has increased, it is now expected to hit at 10 pm, coinciding with high tide. Landfall - between Cairns & Cardwell. Rainfall - at least 700 mm (almost three feet). Still tracking straight.

    Watching the deaf signer is fascinating - Auslan is different to Ameslan, but there would be similarities. The reason for the signer - a lot of people with hearing impairments are content to live an isolated life away from cities. Queensland is a lovely place. But during the earlier floods, some people contacted the authorities and said, "We can't understand the press conferences, we are hearing-impaired. Please keep us updated more effectively." So this system is in place.

    150,000 t0 200,000 people will lose power. Transmission towers will come down, so not mobile phone towers could be a problem. They are going to get in as soon as possible afterwards to restore this. Evac centres will be first on the list for places to set up temporary communication transmission.

    Buses are transporting people to evac centres; airports should now be closed. Portable hospitals have been set up; Darwin is standing by (they are not in the cyclone path). Tradespeople, army, other services, food supplies, water supplies are all on standby to get in there ASAP afterwards.

    As I said before - we are lucky here. Our country is set up to handle this to the best of our ability. Aussies work in teams very well, we respond to authority very well (despite our reputation as thumbing our noses at it!). Perhaps I should say, we respond to authority that deserves respect. Anyone coming in and throwing around idiotic orders will get ignored or treated in various surprising ways. But our rescue services work hand in hand with police and army, it is all coordinated well with no competition.

    Press conference over. Question time. Storm surge in one are - 4 metres, but most areas just over 2 metres. Worst on the southern side. Worst case scenario maps are being used to evacuate homes in the storm surge path.
    Police commissioner speaking - small window of opportunity to get out and get to evac centre. Do it now, or don't go. If you don't go now, don't try to go later. You will die. He's not quite being that blunt, but that's the gist of it. The warning is for 24 hours that people will need to keep their heads down and stay put, before it is likely that the storm will have passed sufficiently for it to be safe to come outside. Stay in bathrooms and toilet areas, prepare mattresses, have food and water with you, torches. Prepare for the roof of the house to go, but even so - stay put, it is safer inside a de-roofed house than to leave. In tat 24 hour period, emergency services will not reach you. They have to stay safe too. That ay they will be alive afterwards to help people then. So people themselves in trouble, have to be the first responders. Use common sense and follow the safety procedures and all the instructions (we are regularly briefed in Australia on how to stay safe; hotels all have cyclone safety instructions behind the door in every unit, or provided to guests in this situation).

    The eye is currently 30 km across and will take over an hour to pass. So don't believe it is over when it suddenly goes calm and stays calm for an hour - it will be back, and it will be bad.

    Also a reminder - the wind direction will change direction and reverse as the eye passes - plan for it. Use the eye to patch up damage and protect the other side, you will have a better idea of what to expect.

    The wind won't suddenly hit at X time, it is building now. It is already getting too dangerous to drive on the road.

    The rainfall is expected further north than previously thought, which is good news. It is going into the Gulf region more than earlier believed. Good news indeed. They're not so waterlogged, and also very sparsely populated. Building in that area (very few) are built to strong cyclone specs. They also would have satellite phones and not be relying on mobile phone towers.

    Whatever happens now - we are as ready as we can be. I mean we, the country. Down here, the sun is shining and will continue to do so until storms on Saturday. Temperatures to drop and rainfall here, on Sunday.

  9. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Praying for those in the path of the storm!
  10. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Everything possible that could be done ahead, has been done. People have been given detailed instructions on what to do and how to prepare. They've been told about the eye and that it will take over an hour to pass this time, and to not think it's all over.

    As I said before - with all the floods we had, there was only one death before that bad sudden torrent. We're hoping and praying for no deaths now.

    We also have various media groups in the evac centres - with police/army permission. Nobody is to be a hero here. Even emergency rescue people are battening down and waiting it out.

    We'll report in when we know more. In 12 hours, they'll be in the thick of it. The storm has already begun but transmission is still coming out from evac centres.

  11. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    Adding in my prayers for those to be affected by this storm!
  12. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    They're getting people to register if they're sheltering out of their own homes. That is going to make it easier to track people who seem to be missing but who are actually safe. Only those genuinely missing will concentrate resources.

    husband & I have been through this in 1994 when we evacc'ed out form the fires and had to register that we were away from home, and where we were staying. As I got off the boat there were people there with clipboards making notes. These days it would be an iPad...

    It looks like the eye will cross the coast later than expected, so hopefully the storm surge will be closer to 2 metres and not 4.

    People have just been told - get indoors now, stop travelling if you're en route. Batten down. It's about to ramp up.

    The Weather Bureau are having to use satellite to track it, they're losing weather stations.

  13. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    Marg - you are an amazing writer. I feel like I am in Austraila. I'm glad all the safety measures are in place.
  14. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    Ditto. DDD
  15. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Thanks, guys.

    It's the morning after here, but the winds are still strong in the area, people are still battened down. A lot of people still "on the air" with phones, so our national radio station has been taking calls from people still in their houses in the cyclone area.

    No reports of casualties - too soon possibly, but cautiously optimistic. All reports are that this was the worst people have ever been through, including Cyclone Larry which hit exactly the same area three years ago at Category 4. Before Yasi hit, there were some people saying, "Oh, I went through Larry, no worries - this'll be OK, I know what to expect." None of that this morning!

    The storm surge - they're saying the worst it got was about 7.5 metres above high water mark. There were some interesting things overnight - one of the reporting buoys is in a place where it doesn't usually get wave action, but waves were breaking over it and turning it upside down - it was reporting 18 metre waves! They announced on TV, "It's OK, there is not an 18 metre surf swell, it's just the buoy being turned upside down!

    Just heard on the radio - a baby girl has been born in the Cairns evac centre. Sn English midwife happened to be bunkered down in there with them, she's here on holiday. The parents have said the child's name will NOT be Yasi!

    Reports - "it's just like the place has been sprayed with napalm." The news has come on. It's now further inland, downgraded to Category 3 as it moved further inland. Still too dangerous to go outside, although some idiots are. The cops say they're seeing cars drive past but they're not going outside to stop them - won't risk the cops' safety.

    I know I indicated that people here generally know what to do, are told what to do and a lot of precautions are put in place. But we still have idiots who don't listen/ The first calls for rescue came in at about 10 pm, two hours before the worst of the cyclone really hit. Don't know the details, but about half a dozen middle-aged people seemed to think that emergency people would come out to get them! Nope. They actually asked, "Can you come and rescue us?"
    They got told, "No rescue staff will be asked to risk their lives. But stay on the phone, we will tell you what to do."
    It sounds to me like they didn't heed the warnings and then got nervous when the wind picked up. I wonder how they felt when it REALLY kicked in?

    Down here the heat continues. They've said the worst day will be Saturday - that's when the humidity from Yasi's massive rainfall works its way down here and causes even more problems. I'm wearing my wet bandanna, slept in it last night (nothing else). Overnight temperatures again are ridiculous - the overnight minimum is hotter than most summer middays here. In the 90s (F). Over 30 C. That's the COOLEST it is down here. The heart of Sydney, the bit the tourists go to, is ONLY about 35 C (95 F) most days thanks to the cooling effect of the Harbour. But the population centre of Sydney is pushing the mid 40s (113 F). Interestingly, out there it was cooler overnight - 24.9 C (76.8 F). That was Penrith, where the Olympics equestrian events were held in 2000. It's slightly higher than the rest of Sydney so it was cooler overnight. Here it didn't go below 30 C. Our sea temperature in Sydney is 24 C (75 F).

    Back to the cyclone - I've got the TV on now, Anna Bligh (Queensland Premier) is giving her regular press conference. Reports of devastating damage in cities. No evac centres damaged, all people there are safe and all in contact. No reports of casualties but still way too early to call it. People generally did the right things, made plans, helped one another, worked together to make everything as safe as possible.

    The Whitsundays were hit but only on the edge. Many years ago when easy child was a toddler, husband & I holidayed there. We stayed in a charming but rustic-looking islander cabin, it looked like a strong breeze would knock it over. But husband had a closer look - the places was built very strongly, bolted together discreetly and everything locked down. The building codes here in cyclone-prone areas are strict. But this cyclone was the worst to hit for centuries, they said.

    Well, we'll know soon.

    husband & I are going out this morning. I'll hopefully be back home to check in with you all on how things are, at about midday. Maybe later. We will know a lot more by then.

  16. Star*

    Star* call 911........call 911

    Marg and Margs Man -

    I have been watching the news about your cyclone, I am fascinated by the weather this storm is absolutely incredible. My prayers are with those that are in it's path. I have survived two hurricanes here in the US that left us devistated. Andrew and Hugo. One took my home with floods and the other left us locked away from people and electricity for over seven days. We were lucky - we survived. I am very glad to hear you are safe. Keep up the updates on this monster. Weather wise; the world is absolutely fascinating at present.