Saturday, March 07, 2009

preparing / to batten / down the hatches

Just as the monsoon trough has, over the past year & a half, reached further south, so too, it now appears, are the cyclones. Cyclone Hamish—a good Scottish name; & even though the Scots are popularly supposed to be miserly, this is predicted to be the strongest cyclone of the season—is tracking steadily down the coastline in our direction.

Cyclones are ranked, depending on the speed of the accompanying winds, on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 the strongest. Hamish has just been upgraded to category 3—winds <225 kilometres per hour— & is expected to be a 4—>225 kph—by the time it is off Yeppoon, that part of the coast closest to us, if it keeps on its current course.

What we can expect—this distance from the sea & with a couple of ranges of lowish hills between here & there; we're on the outer red circle of the lowest dartboard in the tracking map—are strong winds & heavy rains ahead of & during it. Say Sunday through to Tuesday. But cyclones that parallel the coastline have the unhappy knack of suddenly taking a right angle & veering in to cross the coast. The Weather Bureau are picking sometime on Sunday & somewhere round Mackay as being the likely place where that will happen, & if it does, & the cyclone continues on its southerly direction, then "strong winds & heavy rains" will probably be understating the situation.

The latest tracking map has the cyclone likely to lose some intensity in the next 24 hours, but it also has its path closer to the coast hereabouts. We're now sitting almost on that middle red ring.


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