Heeeere’s Debbie!

She’s made landfall… finally.

She’s been a slow old cow of a cyclone. All this loitering around has allowed her to gain size and strength, and she’s dawdled down our way, curtseying this way and that while she picked her spot. She toyed with Hamilton Island for a while, much to the fury of the tourists at the luxury resorts there, who couldn’t get home because all flights were cancelled. Ayr looked like her first choice, then Bowen, then Mackay, then back to Bowen. She finally made up her mind and stepped ashore on the mainland at Airlie Beach, south of Bowen and north of Mackay. Airlie’s currently got a couple of hours of respite, being in the eye right now, but we’ve seen some shocking and very widespread damage on the news. She’ll be coming round to slap them on the other cheek soon… Bowen’s next, being  on approximately the same latitude and further east, following the order of circulation. Proserpine will get a drubbing too.

She’s been increasing in strength the whole time, and in the final stages of her journey, it was debatable whether she’d turn into a Category 5, but she finally crossed still as a 4.  The eye is about 50km across, so you could stand in the centre and not be able to see the ‘arena’* or even know there was anything going on. She’s been clearly visible from a long way out in space, which is unusual. You have to remember that this bad girl is over 500km/310 miles across

It’s still going to take a while before the bad weather is over for us. We’re to the south of the track, where the worst of the damage is to be expected – cyclones rotate clockwise, unlike typhoons or hurricanes in the northern hemisphere, which rotate the other way. Once the wind has passed over land, it eases somewhat, so areas to the the north of the track experience less damage. We’re also low-lying, so the storm surge is probably our biggest worry, and from what we’ve seen of the coverage, it’s already bad and some areas in Mackay are already well under water. Given that we had high tide 2 hours ago, and the rain is incessant, I don’t see that situation resolving any time soon.

Our winds have picked up. It’s screaming like the damned out there, trees are lying right over, and the rain is hammering on the windows like it was being squirted out of a fire hose. The weather station at the airport is where we’re pulling our data, but it hasn’t updated for a while. I know the pressure is dropping steadily as the wind increases. Now we just sit tight and wait, and wait some more. But we’re safe from the deadliest part of the cyclone, we just have very dirty weather. She’ll be turning south and east now, losing intensity all the time, and bringing some desperately needed rain to inland areas.

*For an idea of how this looks take a look at this “Katrina, Hurricane: inside eyewall of storm”. Photo. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Web. 27 Mar. 2017.


70 thoughts on “Heeeere’s Debbie!

  1. Naomi says:

    Take care. It’s horrible being at the mercy of the forces of nature.

  2. ordinarygood says:

    Lots of news and updates here in NZ too. All that waiting and uncertainty is exhausting. It is good to hear that you are safe…

    • katechiconi says:

      It’s been very wearing, and because of the constant wind noise we got very little sleep. We have a lot more bad weather to wait out, but the house is safe, we still have power and it’ll be over in a few hours, I hope 🙂

      • ordinarygood says:

        The last big storm we had here in 2013 and we had winds of up to 160kms power in and hang around. The wind sounded like a freight train constantly going past us. Trees came down near us and we got little sleep due to the noise and that gnawing anxiety that something more could happen. Let’s hope the power stays on as that is reassuring. Lots of short videos popping up on FB of McKay. We hope for respite quickly for you all.

      • katechiconi says:

        We have some pretty serious wind still, and Mackay is still getting a drubbing, but at least we know the really bad stuff has gone elsewhere. I’m going to put in some earplugs and try for a large nap this afternoon 🙂

  3. Crossing my fingers that Debbie passes quickly without all of the predicted damage.

  4. Keeping my fingers crosses and saying extras that you all stay safe without too much damage. Thanks for the update. Checked just before heading off for the night. Weather is a very serious mistress. 2 of my neighbors across the street from me may have to have their homes moved as the land is washing out from under them. Just too much rain this year. I’m still in good condition here so far. With spring, it starts to dry out a bit, finally.

    • katechiconi says:

      We’ve come through pretty well, now that we’ve had a chance to go outside and assess. Half of one tree gone, snapped off at the root. A palm tree gone, branches off here and there. We lost power for 15 minutes just as I was writing this – a branch down on the lines somewhere else. But really, we’ve got off amazingly lightly.

      • Sad about the tree. It’s hard to lose them but better than you two or your home. I always worry about animals caught up out in it. At least all your quilting is safe and waiting. 😉 Thanks for the update. I guess I can uncross my fingers now.

      • katechiconi says:

        You can indeed. And the tree wasn’t a big old mature one – losing one of those is a tragedy. I’m sorry to lose the shade it offered, but it’s only half gone and the other half will regenerate. Thank you so much for your support, it’s been a tough few days and I couldn’t have done it without all of you 🙂

    • katechiconi says:

      She’s shaken her big stick at us but we’re fine. It’s going to be hours before it’s finally over, but at least she’s done her worst to us. Others aren’t quite so lucky, as she works her way round up there.

  5. Debbie has even made OUR news – just watching the youtube clip you posted yesterday was scary enough 😦 Hang extra tight x

    • katechiconi says:

      We’re coming out the other side. The wind is very gradually dying down, and while there’s plenty to clear up and things to repair, we’ve been pretty lucky. I think we’ll need to replace some of our front windows, as they leaked like taps with the gale force winds blowing rain at them…

      • eish! On the bright side, at least they didn’t blow in completely! I’ve seen that happen in some taller apartment blocks in Cape Town when the wind really goes crazy…

      • katechiconi says:

        We had the glass taped, and the glass frames taped to the window frames, fly screens drawn, blinds pulled and curtains drawn. If they’d blown in, the glass wouldn’t have gone anywhere apart from on the floor. We’d definitely have got a bit wet, but I had a tarp, towels and duct tape standing by 🙂

  6. Cas says:

    Good to see you =)
    Mum rang about 1:15 this arvo, she’s lost power but otberwise ok. And has successfully made a call on the mobile. Yay!
    Hang tight, see you on tbe otber side….

    • katechiconi says:

      Hey Cas, glad to hear Auntie M is fine. It must have been her generation’s time to use tech, as Mum sent us an ecard from the ship asking for news and asking for emails! It’s still blowing like crazy and raining hard, but Debbie is giving Prosperpine and Bowen a hard time right now, and leaving us mostly alone.

      • Castella Arthur says:

        Auntie H picked a good time to go cruising! Glad to hear you don’t have too much damage, Mum didn’t mention any…. Maybe the lout that nicked her palm trunk and orchids a few weeks back did her a favour (sort of). PS Hubby can ignore the text, just thought I’d check in with the wider Chiconia kingdom, haven’t from H&C as yet.

      • katechiconi says:

        She did, didn’t she! We have a couple of trees down, but no real estate was harmed in the making of this Cyclone. We talked to H & C this morning, both are well, undamaged and H had a temporary power loss but nothing critical to report.

  7. So frightening and worrying. Have been checking out on google and just listened to the calming voice of the chief met officer whilst all hell broke out in the video content!! Am hoping you will come out unscathed and have a chance to catch up on rest.

    • katechiconi says:

      We’re unscathed but a bit tired; stress and lack of sleep will do that to you! The footage on TV can’t really communicate how LOUD the weather is. It screams like a banshee, rumbles like a huge truck and the whole house creaks!

  8. tialys says:

    I would be such a wimp in your shoes. I can’t believe you still have power with all that going on – the slightest flurry of snow or high wind interferes with our electricity. It did make me laugh that the cat was out all night though. Knowing cats, she probably wasn’t ‘out’ at all but hunkered down somewhere warm and cosy where she felt safe. I expect you got a bit worried you might have to tell the Dowager that her beloved mog had been blown away 😮

    • katechiconi says:

      The cat slept the night on a comfy cat bed under the caravan, perfectly happy! As for the power, we lost it briefly for just 15 minutes when the power company cut the juice to a downed line in order to fix it. They’re really on the ball, having imported 800 personnel and their equipment from the south expressly for this purpose. Good planning rocks!

  9. nanacathy2 says:

    I was listening to the world service through the night and was hearing of this bad old lady and thinking of you all the time. Take care! xx

    • katechiconi says:

      That’s so kind of you! She’s still puffing and blowing, but she’s running out of steam. Hopefully by tomorrow things will have calmed down enough that I can get out to the shops and restore the contents of my fridge, put away the tarpaulins, towels and duct tape, and give the house a good airing 🙂

  10. I’ve been keeping an eye on Deb all through the day.Hope you are able to get some rest ♡

    • katechiconi says:

      Tonight should be better, it’s a strong wind but it’s not howling and roaring like it was before so we’ve got a better chance of some sleep… The Husband didn’t have to work today or tomorrow, so he’s enjoying the luxury of nothing much to do. Me, I’m getting a little stir crazy!

  11. nettyg says:

    Hope you can get a bit of rest now despite the wailing and screeching…..and that’s only from Mr Chiconia :). You’ve come out of it very well, all things considered, the footage of damage so far is heartbreaking. We’re on flood watch already, all that lovely rain for inland areas is going to drain right into our catchment and is going to make a big mess here along with the 100+ml expected to fall on us. At least no big winds!

    • katechiconi says:

      No, no, the noise from the Husband of Chiconia is a sort of deep growling. It seems rather familiar, somehow… Anyway, I hope the catchment drainage doesn’t coincide with too many high tides, that the river behaves itself, and that you don’t get stuck at home too much because of endless rain…

  12. nettyg says:

    It’s meant to be gone and out to sea and fine again by Saturday, so not too long stuck at home…..and there’s always those sewing projects I put off to be outdoors.

    nighty night x

  13. kymlucas says:

    So glad you’re OK.

  14. Emma says:

    How are you holding on? Looks like it’s not quite finished yet 😕 still category 2 atm apparently

    • katechiconi says:

      We got through the worst of it with just some water trickling in around the edges of the windward windows. I have a pile of wet towels to deal with tomorrow, but apart from that, I’m grateful it’s *just* a gale now and a whole lot quieter. You can look forward to some wind and rain coming in by the back door via the Granite Belt by about Friday, I reckon!

  15. magpiesue says:

    Whew! Glad to learn things have calmed down and all is relatively well in Chiconia.

    • katechiconi says:

      Relative is the term. We have no power NOW, after the event. And we’re getting the last lash of the scorpion’s tail in the form of a really serious blow with associated fire-hose type rain. Still, the roof’s still on and the generator’s running.

  16. Kate, I’ve thought of you constantly. I can’t imagine the stress of what you’ve been through. I’ve been regularly refreshing my screen open to the map you shared. It’s been a doozie. I’m glad to hear that it has finally made land fall and will now begin to dissipate.

    • katechiconi says:

      It’s going to take at least another 24 hours before the bad weather abates, and we’re now without power. Thank goodness for the generator. At least I can keep the fridge cold… We have no small children and are not classed as vulnerable, so we’re way down on the priority list to get power restored. Maybe next week. Or maybe we’ll be lucky. The guys further up north need the help much more than we do.

      • Your’e in it for a long haul, Kate. I’m glad you have a generator. Is that true there for most people? A few people we know have one here (in case of a big earthquake) but we’ve never gotten around to getting one ourselves. We’ve been without power for two days during the winter months and about the same one summer during a brutal, nine-day long heat wave. I think the summer was far worse. I’ve been thinking of you, Kate, and hoping the worst of the storms are soon behind you. Then of course the heavy work of cleanup begins. I hope you’re managing to get some rest.

      • katechiconi says:

        Lots of people in rural areas have them. The cost can be a bit of a deterrent, and the noise; the powerful ones also make a powerful racket. This part of the world is prone to severe storms and it’s a wise precaution to have one that’s up to the job of at least running the fridge and a fan!

      • That makes sense. The neighbor in the house behind us has one, and I remember how noisy it is. We had what they call a brown out or rolling power reduction one summer after a prolonged heat wave. Nearly 100 people died in heat related incidents. It was awful. Hour fridge “fried” during the brown out, and it took a month for them to replace it. Mike bought dry ice for $15 every other day to keep things cold. Eventually I broke down and bought a mini dorm fridge for $120 figuring it would pay for itself in just a few meals that we didn’t have to eat out. We had young boys at the time, so even having a place for juice and milk was fabulous. It makes you appreciate what you often take for granted.

      • katechiconi says:

        Refrigerations is a big issue in a hot climate. We looked at the cost of dry ice for our camping trips but it was ludicrously expensive. In the end we froze large blocks of ice in plastic food containers and left them in the freezer for a week or so. They defrosted much more slowly than chunk ice, but of course that wouldn’t have worked for you! We have a car fridge too, but the caravan fridge really is the perfect solution, as it’s a three way: household power supply, 12v cart supply and propane.

  17. dayphoto says:

    I would be terrified there!! Although, reading you last comment I am so thankful you are okay and the ‘gale’ is moving on!

  18. nettyg says:

    Good morning…..hope it is anyway, How was you night. Looks like that rude weather event banged and crashed her way into CQ and left another big mess behind her. Hope you get a little sunshine or at least some dry patches to start and sort out your clean up.

    • katechiconi says:

      Not a chance. The rain if anything is heavier, the wind’s veered round to the north so there’s a whole new set of flying debris, and we lost power at 2.30am. No sign of getting it restored any time this week, as all the power guys have gone north to help in the impact zone.

      • nettyg says:

        Just saw Higgin’s warning of severe flooding in Mackay, so had figured there weren’t any little rays of sunshine for you just yet. Saw your new post with your plans to camp out in Lizzie, great idea, hang in there.

      • katechiconi says:

        Yup, we are that flooded area. The rain is astronomical, the gutters and storm drains can’t cope, the water’s pouring into the lower level where the garage and store room and laundry are. We’ve spent all morning moving and mopping. If the water rises again, all the non-waterproof stuff is high up now. The storm drain is a raging torrent 2.5 metres wide right in front of the house, and our bridge over it is only just above water level. Can’t see the power crews working in this, so Lizzie it is…

  19. mlmcspadden says:

    I’m glad that you’ve made it thru the worst without major damage. Here’s hoping the backend of the storm behaves as it should.

    • katechiconi says:

      I said she was a bad girl, and she’s living up to her reputation. The power went out in the early hours and we probably won’t get it back for days. Luckily we were prepared and had things in place to keep going.

  20. ladyredspecs says:

    Hope you are in one piece Kate and there’s not too much mess to clean up. I’m such a coward I think I’d flee..

    • katechiconi says:

      You’d have been sensible, not cowardly. Trouble is, we’d have had to go such a long way to get out of her reach. There’s a big fat mess, alright, but I can’t do anything about it till the rain stops.

  21. kathyreeves says:

    Hoping you wake because you actually slept, that the wailing is about over, and you are still dry!

    • katechiconi says:

      Um… sorry to tell you I woke at 2.30 because we lost power. Managed a little more sleep but then it got too hot without fans or aircon (still 80°F here), so we got up, cranked up the generator, located the battery lanterns, etc. We’re unlikely to get power back till next week, and yes, Debbie’s giving us a large serve of backlash. I can’t get onto the BoM site to get a map for you, it’s massively over-subscribed right now, but although the howling has stopped, the lashing rain is heavier than ever.

  22. rutigt says:

    ojojoj……I´m glad I´m not there. Here we only had a light snowfall last night.

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