Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Wild weather again

A tiring journey, almost exactly 24 hours door-to-door when I arrived home at 11pm yesterday.

There's also a seven hour time difference to adjust to, so I'm all over the place at the moment. Can't sleep, can't do much else, so I thought I'd check in here for a few minutes.

I've just received an e-mail from a Dubai friend warning of storms on the way for the next couple of days. The weather's the main news here too.

Sydney is in the middle of a very warm spell, over 40C the last couple of days and today high thirties, and as February is our most humid month it's quite uncomfortable. We also had one of the highest-ever overnight low temps last night apparently, at 26.4C.

There are bushfires in a couple of Sydney suburbs, under control fortunately, and more than seventy though New South Wales.

The big news though is the massive Cyclone Yasi due to hit Far North Queensland in a few hours at 10pm. It's a catagory five cyclone, 500 kilometres wide and it's headed straight for the area where the two cities of Townsville and Cairns and several smaller population centres are located.

It's forecast that winds will be as high as 300kph and will last 24 hours. That's much worse than Cyclone Tracy which destroyed the Northern Territory capital of Darwin in 1974.

Murphy's Law comes into play yet again, because Cyclone Yasi's landfall will coincide with a high tide and a two metre storm surge is expected in Cairns city centre.  This on top of Queensland's floods that made world-wide news a couple of weeks ago, which still haven't fully receded.

Thousand of people have moved inland. They say 30,000 have gone and the Queensland Premier is urging more people to flee in the next few hours' 'window of opportunity' as she calls it.

She said: "I don't think Australia has ever seen a storm of this size, this intensity in an area as popular as this stretch of our coast...this is 24 hours of some of the most frightening weather that most people will ever have experienced." 

Many people are in evacuation centres in Cairns. In Townsville the winds are already severe and if people haven't left they're being told to secure their homes and stay put. To go out now is too dangerous, the emergency services say.

And a totally unconnected news story that's just hit the airwaves after a news conference a few minutes ago is that our most successful Olympian, swimmer Ian Thorpe, has announced that he's returning to swimming and plans to train in...Abu Dhabi.

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