Weathering the storms

Tuesday, November 19, 2013 Permalink

We’ve had some scary weather here in Australia over the past few years. It feels like it’s progressively gotten worse and though I’m a supporter of the science of climate change and the fact we need to address it, I’m not going to get into that debate here. (I’d prefer to leave it to the experts on Twitter! πŸ˜‰ )

It has to be said – however – that here in Oz we’re luckier than most / many countries, when it comes to earthquakes, typhoons and the like.

Yet here in Queensland we’ve recently had some devastating floods involving the loss of human life and damage of significant infrastructureΒ andΒ floods ruining the livelihood of many. In addition, recent bushfires further south have been scary beyond belief.

However…. the other day I saw this….

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And I’ve been pondering on it ever since.

The Twitter-user in question is a journalist. I suspect he’s approximately my age. And my immediate reaction to reading his tweet was… YES!

Over the past two weeks (here in Queensland) we’ve been plagued by storms and potential storms. As a regular user of Twitter every time I checked in I was bombarded with endless tweets in CAPITAL LETTERS!





What makes the warnings worse is that they’re constantly retweeted. And I seem to follow a myriad of organisations which feel a sense of obligation to issue warnings. So my Twitter feed is full of capital letters and exclamation marks*.

One day early last week I (possibly inappropriately) tweeted this:

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And it feels kinda true.

But… back to the sense of panic we all seem to feel nowadays when a storm is coming.

Obviously we (and our predecessors) have been experiencing thunder and hailstorms FOREVER. Before Twitter we had annoying sirens blasted on the television and radio, warning of coming storms and cyclones. Otherwise it was just dad racing to put the car under cover cos ‘the sky looks a bit green’ (and therefore hail was a likelihood). And I suspect the generations before that were the same… they simply looked at the sky, scratched their chins and said…. “Looks like we might get a storm,” while gnawing the barely cooked leg of an animal they killed with their bare hands!)

Indeed, when I was a kid, hail was really quite exciting. We’d race outside to try to get some pieces before they melted. Storms were a fact of summer as was low-level flooding.

My family spent every second summer in far western Queensland and many-a-time had to leave in the middle of the night because it was raining heavily and we were worried the Bulloo River would flood and we’d be stuck the wrong side of Charleville.

Prior to the devastating floods of recent years we’d been in drought. The government had practically rationed water; and controversial dams, desalination plants and water treatment plants were in train. And then the rain reappeared.

Now, no way in hell am I trying to minimise or diminish the impacts that the terrible floods of 2011 or various cyclones have had on our infrastructure, livelihoods and our emotional wellbeing.

I’m really not trying to be flippant: the flash flood through Toowoomba in 2011 was one of the worst things I’ve seen; and recent storms in Queensland have damaged infrastructure – reminding us that mother nature can be deadly. But (at the same time) I can’t help but wonder we’ve become overly cautious and always imagining the worst possible scenario – and sharing that fear with future generations?

I think it’s sad that we’ve had to become so paranoid. Sean’s tweet above suggests that government and the media are responsible for fear-mongering, but the stuff in my Twitter feed from mere mortals is as dire as any media report*.

I guess what I’m saying is that I understand that many people have become nervous about what summer can throw at us; but that I’m hoping for a few summers of ‘innocuous’ storms and bushfire-free seasons to again see bad weather for what it is – not always a threat or something to be feared – but something that’s occasionally beautiful and (though frustrating)… definitely something we can again learn to live with.

Do you think there’s a possible balance between wariness of storms or (fires and the like) and full-scale panic?

*Having said that, I think Twitter is the best thing ever. It allows anyone and everyone with access to the internet to be kept informed and have access to news and information to which we once would not have been privy.

PS. Please note that while I love the notion of kids playing in puddles, I’m also not condoning dangerous behaviour like playing near creeks, drains etc. #disclaimer!

  • Tiff
    November 19, 2013

    OMG, what about parents at school telling me that their 2 kids slept in their bed the other night because they thought they might be scared if the storms . The kids are 8. & 9 years old…….. What is the next generation going to grow up like!?!?
    Whenhail comes, as is has a few times lately, the kids can’t wait to put the bucket out and catch some to eat…… Just like you! Agree with you 100% Deb, this is part to life and growing up, we should approach it with a but of sensibility!

  • Lee-Anne
    November 19, 2013

    I do know what you mean. I recall a storm warning earlier in the year that was soo frightening that I quivered indoors, anticipating a storm of Armageddon type proportions. Yet when the winds and rain actually arrived, they were fairly innocuous. Yet the FEAR of waiting, thinking the roof would fly off and our willow tree would be uprooted and crash into the house, was awful!

    You’re right, the ready access of info spreads doom and gloom and exacerbates things. Warnings and precautions are one thing, but panic is counterproductive πŸ™‚

    • Debbish
      November 22, 2013

      I can understand that those who’ve had bad experiences would be paranoid, but it’d be nice if we had a few ‘nice’ storms so we can remember what it’s like to enjoy them!

  • Char
    November 20, 2013

    I generally take all those warnings with a grain of salt and check the weather radars for myself. There have been countless times when we’ve been told that the storm is heading our way only to have it dissipate before it arrives. And for someone who loves storms that’s such a disappointment. But then, I’ve never been personally affected by a really bad one.

    • Debbish
      November 22, 2013

      No neither have I Char. I can understand that if you have you’d be a bit gun-shy. I think the Weather Bureau (BOM) errs on the side of caution nowadays though!

  • Emily @ Have A Laugh On Me
    November 20, 2013

    Today I posted about storms, I hope that kids can just enjoy them. I’m vigilant but also want my kids to enjoy mother nature’s spoils!

  • Victor W. Perez
    November 23, 2013

    This evening we had the most magical thunder storm we’ve had in a while! Flashing beams of light darting across the sky, casting shadows all around. Then the clouds opened up, offering a downpour of nature’s tears. I love storms. There’s something so cathartic about watching the chaos of whipping wind, electric beams and heavy rain drops from the security of home.It reminds me of the uncertainty of life and the storms we each face. If we look at the storms while we’re standing in the rain, we’re sure to be hit by lightening. But if we surround ourselves in the home of God, those storms become something mystical…the fear turns into wonder. We begin to look at the mysteriousness of what is taking place and begin to see the beauty in it.Something that has the potential to be terrifying is transformed into a deeper moment of depending on God and we’re able to see what’s happening in a different light. Instead of running to find cover, we stand in awe of the power before us. We appreciate the rain that waters the land, wait with excitement for the next flash of light to show and count the seconds until we hear the boom of thunder.I love to light a few candles in the fireplace, turn off all the lights and watch the light show from the safety of home. So the next time you find yourself in a storm, take a deep breath, find a home in the safety of God’s arms, light some candles and watch the show with different eyes. You have nothing to fear. Just know that the storm will pass soon enough and you’ll come away with a greater knowing of yourself and your God.

  • iSophie
    November 24, 2013

    Hail is exciting and thankfully a rare event. As long as they aren’t dangerously large anyway! I loved storms growing up and I now I only hate strong winds. Whereas flooding will never be a threat to us, we do have brushfire threat and have been evacuated in the past so dry hot windy weather makes me nervous. #teamIBOT

    • Debbish
      November 24, 2013

      I can understand that if you’ve been impacted by something you’d be far more likely to fear it in future. I’m lucky as I haven’t had that experience!!!

  • EssentiallyJess
    November 24, 2013

    Funny you write about this. I’m finally catching up on IBOT today (taken me long enough) and there is a cyclone hanging over us as I write. It’s a tiny system, barely more than a big storm, (which could possibly turn into more, but it’s not likely), and people are getting so upset over it! The shops have run out of stuff and people on FB are asking why are the shops still open, when surely everything should be shut! It’s all a bit over dramatic!
    Meanwhile, I have done no preparation apart from charging my lap top in case the power goes out. πŸ™‚ We will get some rain, a couple of trees will go down and it will all be fine I’m sure. Let’s not make more of this than it is.

    • Debbish
      November 25, 2013

      Yes, I unplugged stuff preparing for big storms here yesterday but none arrived. And barely any rain. Sadly!

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