043. 7th March 2009. Cyclone Hamish or a “Whole lot a shakin goin on”…

Cyclone Hamish probably caught most of us by surprise. Suddenly Thursday night there it was on the weather report. The cyclone tracking map showed a potential landfall near Bowen sometime late Sunday night. By weather report Friday night the expected landfall was Hayman Island and describ ed as the worst cyclone of the season, now a category 3 and “the potential for loss of life”.

At the office we discussed what procedures to put in place so if there was a worse case scenario we had the capability of being able to access computers and provide a service.

As I write this entry it is 4.30 am Saturday morning an occassional gust of wind stirs the curtains. Last night and yesterday afternoon there was a strange overcast sky but otherwise dead calm. No wind. The air seemed to have held its breath.

The predicted cyclone tracking map shows the eye of the cyclone now passing a little eastwards of Hayman Island and continuing to track along the coast with Yeppoon as a possible landfall. In the meantime we are still in the path for the strong destructive winds, heightened sea levels and heavy rain.

Outside, it is dark and still, with those occassional gusts of wind which I can hear approaching through the tree tops, moving the curtains then all is still again. Humidity levels seem to have risen overnight.

I decided to do the grocery shopping last night instead of this morning. I guessed, correctly, there would be some sort of panic buying going on and not much fresh produce on the shelves in the morning. I was surprised when I arrived at the supermarket to find it almost empty. As were much of the shelves. At the checkout the lady looked harrassed and commented the shop was overrun with shoppers all day and it had finally slowed down. The bread shelves were, although not empty still a little bare. Surprisingly all the hard breads such as rye were all gone. Fresh veggies were near empty although lettuce and tomatoes were still available as were full cabbages. Most other  veggie lines were gone. Most meats were still on the shelves except mince meat. I was pleased I went last night so that is out of the way and now I can concentrate on preparing the motorhome – the rains of recent weeks has produced a lot of mould including on the clothes stored inside, they have to be washed as do the walls and cupboards. I also need to ensure the motor batteries are in good condition and topped up with electrolyte. We need to be close to home on cyclone watch as Hamish approaches. The winds will gradually increase during the morning and we expect the rain will start later today.

Why am I sitting in front of a computer at 4.30 am? Could not sleep. Weird repetitious dreams. My skin felt clammy even in an AC bedroom.

Lets see what the day brings in a few hours.

4pm 7th March. Cyclone Hamish is continuing the steady run parallel to the coast. Some small deviations during the morning but there is still a strong liklihood it could make landfall here. It has been upgraded to a category 4. Hmmm. Thats not good news.

There was some light rain since I went back to bed at 5am. I managed to get the batteries checked and topped up between showers. Since then it has rained lightly but continually. The wind gusts are more frequent and stronger.

We have managed to get all the clothes and bedding out of the MH and washed and on temporary lines strung up on the verandah. If anything the wind is good for drying. We have also commenced the second wave of cleaning inside the bus. This involves pulling everything out of cupboards, washing inside cupboards then clean the goods before putting them back. This is the only way to kill the mould which grows in hot moist conditions. We are using products made of orange oil which smells nice but I manged to get a lungful this morning when we were spraying. We are also vacuuming, at least those parts we are not tracking wet shoes into. The mattress and all the bedding goes back in tomorrow night – if the rain has stopped.

Space is going to be a problem. It is not like a weekend away where we can take extra gear and pack it onto the beds and table. Everything has to be packed away so we have room to move around.

More Hamish update in a few hours.

11.05 pm. @#%$&^*+$#

We rely on updates via the media to warn us what is happening. We have been watching Rockwizz on SBS (what a great program, especially tonight.) So, SBS does not give any updates. I jumped on the PC to gtet and update and…”We are having technical difficulties” What the??? The coast of Qld is threatened by a major category 4 cyclone which at last report could hit the Whitsundays and what happens? “We are having technical difficulties”… Hellooo people from BOM. We are having difficulties too. Do we go to bed and try to sleep not knowing if we are going to get blown off the map or was there a message telling us to evacuate or has it all fizzled out and headed out to sea?

Not only did we not get a map of the cyclone and projected path but not even the usual warnings.

The rain eased off sometime, maybe about an hour ago. The wind is picking up with more frequent stronger gusts but nothing strong enough to blow a table across the verandah…yet. We will go to bed soon with the bedroom closed off and the AC making sleeping comfortable. It also means we will not hear the wind picking up. If the table starts getting blown across the verandah, I will hear that and know we have to do something. I went to the office about 8pm and unplugged the computer and screen and brought them home. As I drove onto our street a very large palm frond was already blown across the road. Not sure if it was just a frond or the whole tree. Took evasive action anyway.

Hmmm. As I write this the wind is picking up again. It is sounding more meaningful now.

Thanks SBS and BOM, thanks for nothing.

Check in tomorrow. If we are here we will report on what is happening.

Oops the wind is beginning to howl. In 5 minutes it went through calm to breeze to wind to heaps of wind.

Catch ya later.

 

Yawn. Its 8am Sunday. I slept all night. Can you believe that? I never sleep this late!.

Hamish is just a bit Northeast of Hayman Island and a good distance off the coast. Hamish is now rated as a 5. Top of the scale, very severe destrucive winds at the core. Up to 280 klms per hour.

At home is basically a constant wind with near horizontal rain but only light rain so far. We relented last night and brought the tables inside and just left 2 heavy chairs on the verandah. They have not moved. Unless Hamish does an immediate inland turn we will not cop the destructive winds, just the outer edges.

Phew!

Off to brekky.

History will show the Whitsunady area was spared any major damage. Hamish is now heading for Fraser Island and I understand the campers are being evacuated. We know how they feel.

A friend took us out or dinner tonight. As we drove through Airlie Beach the sea all around Airlie was flat, calm, no hint of a cyclone threatening us a few hours ago.

The sun came out this afternoon. Can you believe that!

We rolled the awning out a little to find it was wet. At least part of it dried this afternoon. Early Friday I will drive the bus forward so when Donnis comes home from work she can roll the awning out all the way so it can dry out.

The bus is now clean. The linen and our clothes will go in during the week as will the mattress and all the bedding.

I fixed the timber shower recess slats and dried them out. It seems we have a leak in the hatch in the bathroom even when the hatch is closed. While Donnis steadied the ladder I climbed to the roof for a look. Hmmm! Whoever installed the hatch was  a bit rough, nay, a lot rough. The complete plastic surround had a bead of sealant. The sealant appears to be the hard setting type, not the flexible setting type. The sealant has split along the four sides. There are 4 screws per side and the plastic is cracked around each screw. The dimwit who installed the hatch used an absorbent but lightweight timber material. It absorbs moisture like a sponge and is swollen. It is too late to make any repairs now. Perhaps while on the road I can get some sealant and at least repair some of the cracks. Will have to replace the entire fitting when we get home.

Much of the canned and dried food is aboard along with 2 sets of kettles. One is for gas the other is for 240v. Likewise we have a gas toaster and a 240v toaster.

Friday night the bus will be packed before we go to bed. The co-pilot has agreed we leave when I wake. Hmmm. I will probably wake at 4am. If we get away at that time we should be in Mackay for an early breakfast at Maccas and maybe even in Rocky for lunch. If traffic is Ok we may get to Calliope River our first campsite, by early afternoon. In fact allowing 7 hours and leaving at 5am that is a distinct possibility.

Final weather report. No rain since 6pm. No wind. All is calm. Humidity is high.

gute Nacht

2 Responses to “043. 7th March 2009. Cyclone Hamish or a “Whole lot a shakin goin on”…”

  1. Paul & Wendy Greenfield Says:

    Hi Frank & Donnis

    Came across your blog via Cuppa & Mrs. Tea. Enjoying your writings and travels.

    Firstly may I introduce the writer ( Paul) and my wife Wendy. We are freelance hospitality managers http://www.hostsontherun.com.au. We wander all over the state (Qld) and into NSW plying our tools of trade.

    We are currently in Kingaroy, Qld on an extended contracted, however don’t really see pass mid April before we hit the frog and toad again.

    We too have a blog http://theretroroamers.blogspot.com That will give you a good insight to who we are and our recent travels.

    Do you live in Mackay or Airlie? We lived there between 82 & 94 (Mackay) and often pass through that way enroute to Cairns to see our son and grandies. We normally stay at Conway Beach as Airlie is not like the Airlie we knew 20 years ago. Nor is Mackay for that matter.

    Congrats on the wedding, and batten down the hatches, cause you may get a bit of wind whistling around your ears. Seems by the map yepoon will get it big time, but as you well know these things can do an about turn and go anywhere.

    All the best to you both, and will continue to watch your blog. It is book marked on my lap top.

    Cheers

    Paul

    Like

    • frankeeg Says:

      Hi Paul and Wendy, thanks for your comments.
      I will have a read of your site later this morning after I have eaten breakfast. Will add you to my links. Will you add my link to your site?
      Bye for now
      Frank

      Like

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