December 2, 2010

Sodden Brisbane


As I've explained before, the Australians don't use equinoxes and solstices to delimit their seasons. Yesterday was the first day of summer, and with it came the BOMshell (Bureau of Meteorology) that Queensland has had its wettest spring on record. As if to prove the point, rain dropped out of the sky from mid-morning, without ceasing, until bedtime. It was the kind of rain in which you see no birds and hear no birdsong; barefoot children wade home from school; and you take your life in your hands more than usual on the roads.

Today looks as if it will be much the same. But every cloud... presents another photo opportunity.





And from the deluge springs life...


...even if they had to abandon filming Mad Max 4: Fury Road a few months back at Broken Hill in the far west of outback New South Wales because the desert had bloomed after exceptional rainfall. The Sydney Morning Herald quoted Hugh Gough, of the Caledonian B&B in the town famous for silver, sunsets and The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert: 'You can't kick up any dust, it's too green and moist and they need dry and dusty.' Filming has now been abandoned until 2012, and there have been rumours that the production is seeking an alternative dust bowl elsewhere.

This record-breaking rain may well reflect the cyclical rhythms of the SOI (Southern Oscillation Index), which measures seasonal fluctuations in atmospheric pressure levels between Tahiti and Darwin. (Negative values indicate El Niño 'episodes'; positive indicate La Niña episodes – see also A bigger wet, October 2010.) But in addition, it is surely one more piece of evidence of anthropogenic global climate mess-up.

On days like yesterday, when the oppressive gloom and watery curtain beyond every window imprisons you, body and mind, I now know to watch for almost imperceptible changes of light. It happened the other week. The grey flagstones of the patio became ever so slightly more silvery. I dashed out and looked up to the heavens in anticipation.



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