Saturday, March 20, 2010

It's been a week of watching and waiting!

Thar she blows!!!!  We've had our eyes wide open watching and waiting to see just what 'Ului' was going to do.  All week this monstrous cyclone ... originally rated Category 5 - has been racing across the Pacific towards us.  There is no higher category for cyclones ... so there are things that we must do to prepare for such a cyclone.

Luckily we had time to do a lot of trimming back and tidying up during the previous two weeks in between showers of rain.  A pile started building and building ....

... so mid-week we invited some friends around and we sat around the bonfire having a quiet one!

As the week progressed, Ului started to deteriorate ... down to Category 3 and then yesterday down to Category 2 ... so it's now only a 'Destructive' cyclone instead of a 'Very' or 'Highly Destructive' monster.  But it's still heading straight for our section of the north-east coastline.  It's now around 580 kilometres away but is expected to re-intensify to Category 3!

So today has been a busy Saturday ... moving potted plants from the courtyard, moving seedling trays and cuttings into shelter out in the greenhouse garden, a bit more trimming and another bonfire, making sure that there's nothing in the yard that could be blown around or blown away ... actually we had this task pretty well covered as there have been two other cyclones that have made landfall here in the north-east already during the summer!  

Now ... if it stays at Category 2, the cyclone's strongest winds can still gust at around 125 -170 kms an hour.  So, tonight I'll be moving all the furniture off the verandah.

Of course, we've already filled the gas bottles, filled the pantry, filled large water containers and put out the torches and candles where they're easily found.  The generator has been given a test start ... just to be sure it's still working ... and now it's time to sit back and wait.  'Ului' is expected to make landfall early in the morning somewhere along a 300-kilometre stretch of our coastline.

While this all sounds rather drastic, this is a normal part of life here during the summer into early autumn.  We can get ready for an imminent cyclone at the drop of a hat ... it's second nature to us now.  This map (courtesy of the Bureau of Meteorology) shows the history of cyclones in our area over the last 34 years .... each coloured line shows the trail of a cyclone.

Our section of the Australian coastline ... I'm talking about northern Queensland ... unfortunately, is the area that experiences THE most number of cyclones in the entire country.

Now with any luck, all we'll get is a few hours of strong wind gusts and maybe some more rain ... fingers crossed! ... and we can hope that the cyclone crosses the coast in a unpopulated area and there's little damage.  It should be inland by Sunday evening ... after that we'll continue to get heavy showers and strong winds.

On a much lighter note ... today as I went out into the garden to prepare, I noticed my vanilla marigold is blooming ...

... now I'm thinking maybe it's not so much 'vanilla' as 'custard'!!!!  Maybe that's what they meant when they labelled it as 'vanilla' .... 'vanilla custard'.

Not only that, but just look ... finally ... my Empress Toad Lily (Tricyrtis x empress) has shown her beautiful face! 


  1. OH! I do hope you are spared!! How frightening! I love your bonfire photo... looks magical and your verandah is so lovely and inviting. Best of Luck!!

  2. Interesting account of the expected event. We used to get many of those tropical cyclones when we lived near Bangladesh border. I hope Ului will be mild when it reaches you.
    The Toad lily is beautiful. I hope I'll get a bulb somewhere, because I have never seen it here.

  3. Thanks Lotusleaf ... they're such unpredictable things, that you can never really prepare totally for them.
    The Toad Lily is a new one for me ... I'd never seen it before either. I do hope you manage to find it ... the flower is rather small and this plant doesn't spread, it forms just one clump.

  4. Thanks Carol ... we're just keeping our fingers crossed ... there's not much more we can do. The bonfire was brilliant ... we were sitting out under a star-laden night sky, having a quiet drink, mesmerised by those enormous flames. Luckily we don't have neighbours too close to us!

  5. Sure hope it all goes well and you stay safe. What a great porch you have!

  6. Your description was better than a weather person could do. I guess when you have been through it many times you get to be an expert explaining what it is like.

    We get tornados here, and luckily have a basement to go to. Stay safe!


  7. I hope the storm isn't to hard on your gardens. We went through the remnants of Typhoon Melor back in October. Dumped 13 inches of rain in less than 16 hours. Thought we'd get washed off the mountain. Around here that's a LOT of rain. Good luck, look forward to update when the storms have passed.

  8. Fingers crossed for you Bernieh.

  9. you sound like you're an expert when it comes to forward planning for these types of events! I hope it doesn't come near you. We get quite a few bad storms at this time of year too with it being the Spring Equinox - my birdbox crash landed and some slate got broke on Friday due to the storms here.

    I am very partial to a lovely toad lilly - I've never succeeded in keeping them from year to year in this garden. They remind me of orchids when I see their flowers.

  10. Oh no! We will all be hoping you or your property will be hurt and that it slows down even more. Take care. Your toad lily is so pretty.

  11. Prepare well, then just wait for it to pass is about all you can do. Your custard vanilla marigold is lovely, so is the toad lily. Stay safe.

  12. Hello Bernie! I followed you here from a post that you left on my blog (thank you so much, by the way!!) After seeing your map, I see that you really are in the cyclone path! It sounds like you are used to preparing and handling a storm such as this, but still, I hope and pray you are spared from any major destruction. So glad to have had you visit my blog....Take care....

  13. P.S. I LOVE your veranda....and just noticed on your blog sidebar, that you have postings by color! I have a book I recently ordered called: "The Gardener's Color Palette" by Tom Fischer. This book has amazing flower photographs along with chapter categorizing of plants by color. I thought you might want to check it out :)

  14. I love your vanilla custard marigold...and the toad lily, too!


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