it was a category 4 cyclone chugging down the coastline with its attendant threat to move inland at some point during its progress. Fortunately it didn't: the city received a bit of rain & some fairly strong winds, but nothing else.
The year before it was two floods a month apart. Again we were lucky. The lagoon enlarged itself & redefined "the bottom of the street", but we're on a hill, & it was only the low-lying flood plain areas & a few houses that were built on them that went under.
The year before that, a mini-tornado started up about five kilometers away, described an upside down J in its ten kilometer passage, with hyper-winds that tore branches off trees—& occasionally tore down entire trees—but which caused no structural damage to the house though it left us with a bill for over $1000 to have someone cut off the broken branches & clear away the fallen ones.
I may be a year out with that last one. But the first of the two years that either proceeded or bracketed it was extremely hot & dry, & the other was filled up with a long sequence of afternoon tropical thunderstorms.
Six years we've been here, & every summer has been different from the others. This summer—&, yes, I know it's not even summer yet but it may as well be—we're having the worst bushfires that have been recorded in these parts since Europeans settled here the better part of a couple of centuries ago.
There are two ways to build in a flood-prone area. If you build on the flat, then you raise the house well up from the ground, the traditional Queenslander, where the area underneath the house is also great for escaping the heat. The other way is to build on higher ground; & so, over the years, there has been an ever-increasing encroachment on the lower parts of the range of hills that separates the city from the sea. Once the lower slopes have been built on, then the area behind is next for development, & each new area backs upon the bush that covers the hills.
The hillsides behind the houses are reasonably inaccessible; there's the odd walking path, a single road up to the top of the highest point, a few dry creek beds. In other words, it's mainly forest, rarely cleared. & extremely dry. The average total rainfall for the six months May through October over the last 70 years is 200mm. This year it's around 20mm. Add to that a week of what's been described by the Bureau of Meteorology describes as "erratic winds".
We're across the river, well away. But it's a small city, & we're close enough to have ash cover the front porch, to be able to clearly see the fires when we drive down the road. So far there's been no loss of human life, but there's been property damage, loss of domesticated livestock, & probably significant loss of the native fauna that inhabits the area. There have been evacuations, both main roads to the coast have been cut a different times, & one is likely to be again if the fire keeps on going. Fire breaks have been created to protect the built-up areas, but there's still a lot of bushland to provide fuel.
& I'm left wondering what natural disaster is going to occur next summer.
The local daily newspaper has a gallery of fire images here