Storm Season

Category: Ships Log
 

November 2015

Storm season is starting again as summer approaches.

 

This month we celebrated our one year anniversary of arriving in Australia; it’s been a great year of working and exploring a new country. The thing that stands out most in our memory of arriving here last year though, is the storms. Almost every night at our first port of call in Bundaberg, we experienced severe thunderstorms with crazy lightning and it was similar when we arrived in Brisbane. We weren't entirely sure what we had gotten ourselves into. And then to top it off, our fourth day in Brisbane, we got a direct hit by a supercell thunderstorm which brought the worst hail and wind this area has seen in three decades. Luckily, the storms mostly disappeared with the hot weather and come fall, we had lovely, calm weather.  The storms became a faint memory. Well, pretty much on cue, this November the afternoon/evening thunderstorms started up again. Temperatures over 30C (upper 80s to lower 90s in Fahrenheit) with high humidity are becoming more frequent, and as a result, cumulonimbus clouds build up in the mountains just west of us; by afternoon we can watch on our local radar as a wall of bright red with occasional black spots come marching towards us. The red is super heavy rainfall with thunderstorms while the black is hail (green is just regular rain). I’ve never spent so much time watching the weather radar as I do here! Most times the storms tend to veer north or south of us, so we don’t get a direct hit. But about once a week we end up in its path and then we have quite a show. As an example, over 90,000 lightning strikes were recorded from a storm cell that hit just south of us a few days ago! It is exciting weather that keeps you on your toes.

 

storms 1

The view from the marina docks as storm clouds swallow the sky

 

storms 2b

It's always important to time your bike ride home before the storm hits. Although, an oncoming storm is great motivation for a faster ride! :)

 

storms 3b

Anvil crawler lightning over the marina.

 

storms 4

A ground strike nearby. These things are awesome to watch, although I do get a bit worried about our mast getting struck one day.

 

With temperatures over 30C during the day, you really don’t want to do much except go to the beach and swim in the ocean for a chance to cool down. This year, the lab we work for decided to have their annual lab retreat at North Stradbroke Island (called “Straddie” by the locals), which has some beautiful beaches and is a fabulous place to escape the heat in the city. And coincidentally, UQ also has a research station there so we have a cheap place to stay. Straddie is located in Moreton Bay, and you can get there in as little as 2 hours from Brisbane (including the ferry ride across the bay). It was a wonderful break from the lab. We spent the first day working and learning about new bioinformatics tools and then the second day we got to play! We hung out on the beach and swam in the clear, aquamarine 25C ocean water, hiked around Point Lookout, saw lots of wildlife, and finished off the day with a freshwater swim in Brown Lake (which they should actually call Tea Lake) before returning home. What better way to bond with your work colleagues? We returned to Brisbane knowing a little bit more about our workmates, re-charged, and inspired to develop new research projects or look at existing projects in a new way.

 

storms 5

The lovely ocean at North Stradbroke Island.

 

storms 6

Group shot of the Australian Centre for Ecogenomics. Chris is in the far back middle.

 

storms 7

We spotted a koala napping in a tree along the trail to the beach.

 

storms 8

The view along the Point Lookout trail.

 

storms 9

At Point Lookout a manta leaped out of the water in front of us. We also saw dolphins and sea turtles here. It is quite the happening place!

 

storms 10

Brown lake -it is really brown! The color comes from the tannins in the eucalyptus leaves that fall in from the surrounding trees, so it is basically a giant bowl of tea. :)

 

Anyway, as November starts to give way to December we are looking forward to the upcoming holidays. We were smart this year and decided to take advantage of the long holiday break to escape the heat and go back into winter for a couple weeks – we will be spending the holidays with my family in Prague and Chris’s family in Graz. I never thought I’d say this, but I am really looking forward to being cold again and bundling up in warm clothes!

 

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