Well, it's been an interesting few days for me in Townsville up here in North Queensland. Mid last week we became aware of the possibility of a cyclone developing in the Coral Sea west of Townsville. Cyclones are a common occurrence in the north of Australia at this time of year, so at the start of spring I had begun to make basic preparations such as removing rubbish from around my yard and ensuring that my battery lamps and torches were working. Over the end of the week and the weekend, I did a further clean-up around the yard, topped up my cyclone supplies of tinned and non-perishable food and batteries and packed the outdoor furniture into the garage.
Cyclone Debbie was born and it was a waiting game then wondering where she would strike. Cyclones are notoriously unpredictable and the coastal areas in North Queensland are very experienced in preparing for them, so people simply went about the process of battening down in a calm manner. It was very much the calm before the storm.
As she developed, it was clear that Cyclone Debbie was going to be a very large and destructive system. She was predicted to be category 4 when she struck land. For those of you in the northern hemisphere, category 5 is the highest category. We here in Townsville were really hoping she would cross north of us. The southern side of a cyclone gets the most rain, and as we have not had a decent wet season for a few years now, the Ross River Dam, which is our main source of water, is extremely low. There was an air of anticipation, excitement and hope which you do not usually feel about an approaching cyclone.
As it turned out, Cyclone Debbie crossed south of us, across the Whitsunday Islands and Airlie Beach. She was a massive system approximately 1000km across and did indeed develop into a category 4 system, with wind speeds recorded on Hamilton Island in excess of 260km/hr! People in the path of the cyclone were battered by cyclonic winds and rain for about 36 hours. The cleanup is now commencing in all of those areas and I feel for the people who have lost property. At this stage there has only been one reported fatality, which although sad in itself, is a good thing. It is a credit to the way North Queenslanders work together when it really counts. All of our emergency services and the army are now working to assist with the clean-up and assessing the damage. As shocking as the damage is, Australians in general, and North Queenslanders in particular, are good at working together to help each other recover from these types of disasters.
Townsville was on the northern edge of the system, and did get some strong wind gusts over Tuesday night and we have had a little rain, but unfortunately not enough to fill our dam. Its still overcast, so there is still hope that the now ex-Cyclone Debbie will drag moisture south across us as she makes her way south, and we may still get some much needed rain.
On the photography front, the days leading up to Cyclone Debbie crossing provided some spectacular clouds and sunsets. As I was working during this time, I was unable to take advantage of this and was quite jealous of the beautiful images shared by my photographer friends. However I was treated to a beautiful sunset following cyclone Debbie passing through. The photo below is just taken looking down the street in front of my house, so in itself is not a great image, but the colours are just amazing with wonderful cloud formation. I hope you enjoy the image. Mother Nature is an expert at giving us beauty to lift the spirits, after she pummels us!