January 8, 2016

Watch on weather: cats 'n' dogs

The first time it rained like it did the other day, we'd been living in Australia three or four months, in 2010. It didn't stop for about three days. Technically, it wasn't even the Wet season. My friend had driven the car to work; we had no bicycles then; we'd brought cold-weather gear with us (for visiting New Zealand) but as yet hadn't appreciated the need for waterproof trousers during flooding rains. It was only a 10-minute walk to the shops, but in such a downpour I'd have been drenched by the corner of the road. Our original Australia advisor – the Irishman who recommended my friend for the job – had told us there was no point to an umbrella in torrential rain here. He was not wrong.

I cobbled together scraps of this and that from the fridge for supper for a couple of days. I'd got into the French way of food shopping: each day I walked to buy ingredients because it got me out of the house and familiarised me with my new surroundings. So the fridge wasn't stocked. But, I tell you; there is no incentive to venture out into such hard rain.

I didn't blog in those days, but my diary mentions hours of continuous heavy rain – and marvels that I was already complaining about the weather, having been in Australia a matter of weeks.

On Tuesday, our weather station told me we received almost 60 mm in 24 hours. 'It's raining cats 'n' dogs,' it said on the screen. How colloquial. There was lots of rain all over southeast Australia.

In the week before christmas, a supercell tornado ravaged south Sydney about the same time as Higgins Storm Chasers were warning that a cyclone might develop in Far North Queensland. Lots of areas did get rain, but without the damaging winds. Further south, however, in Central Queensland, many of those stricken by the ongoing drought received a few tens of millimetres at best. This week I wished I could have swapped weather with my friend near Alpha.

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