Monday, March 25, 2013


STRIDERS ALMANAC – the Express edition
Volume 1, Part 4, 25 March 2013. Page 1
Part 4 Very hot with many storms but very little rain
21 November to 10 December 2012, a period of 20 days.
Wednesday 21 November
I began to prepare for my return to Solar Village. I took water and fertiliser to the trees that we had planted over the previous few days.
The emphasis in the previous few days had been on finding, digging up and relocating, some young Australian Nutmeg trees ( Myristica insipida ).In the first instance it was our intention to gather them into places that are relatively well protected from fire. You could call that the genetic salvage aspect of the operation.
Nutmeg trees are a very important element in the habitat of the Nutmeg Pigeon ( Ducula spilorrhoa )as both a food source and a tree to roost in overnight. As we understand it the pigeons provide a vital ecosystem service to the local forests as a seed distributing agent. Our actions are intended to help support the pigeon population. We expect that the pigeons will deliver the seeds of many plants to the soil under these trees that we are planting. This new seedling source will enable us to transplant some of the seedlings to other parts of the forest. Our intention is increase the biodiversity in this very badly damaged plant community. Many tree and shrub species have been lost from most places in the community in the last 140 years because of poor fire management. This has seriously reduced the amount of fruit available to Emus and many other animals.
We imagine that we are cooperating with the pigeons to go some way towards restoring the original biodiversity of these very denuded and impoverished ecosystems. We are attempting to make ecosystem repairs in this way. It is an emergency repair project in a very sick landscape. I think of it as a sort of an ecosystem first aid and nursing project.
Thursday 22 November
I noticed the very first flowers for the season on the big flood plain lily ( Crinum asiaticum ), the one that has many flowers held aloft on a single stem. I think that this is an important indicator of conditions in the flood plain, and a sign of the times in every sense of that expression. This is another species that follows different flowering timetables at Wrigley Creek and Solar Village.
Friday 23 November
There was very big storm at (and before) dawn. It was a morning terminator storm. This one had red lightning. Electrical discharges in air are white, but electrical discharges in Nitrogen are red. Storms with red lightning are very tall storms, and I call them ‘red dragon storms’. I don’t think that I noticed even one red dragon storm in the 2010 – 2011 wet season. Very little rain fell from this storm at Wrigley Creek but more rain fell a bit later on in the morning.
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A cool and overcast day followed. I travelled home to the Solar Village and found 66 mm of rain in the gauge there. I do not know when it fell. It fell somewhere between 30 September and 23 November. The Bureau of Meteorology rainfall record for Middle Point (Humpty Doo) does not show any significant fall of rain at all in this period. A friend at Lakewood tells me that he recorded 50 mm or rain on Thursday 8 November. He strongly suggested that the whole 66 mm at Solar Village fell from the thunderstorm on that day. That would be only one rain day in a period of 23 days. And that would be very dry indeed for this time of the year, in this part of the world. I would suggest that the growing season was suspended at Solar Village for lack of follow up rain, from about 15 November.
Saturday 24 November
It was 23 degrees C in the room at 0600 hrs. Mid-day cloudiness developed and it was very humid. The afternoon was very dim and there were many thunderstorms about. It was so dark that it seemed as if the Sun was about to set, all afternoon. We called afternoons like this “long afternoons” when I lived at Camp Concern. According to my notes this was the first long afternoon for the season.
I noticed the beautiful little Ixora tree ( Ixora tomentosa ) in flower on this day. The white Ixora flowers in a long dark afternoon is a vivid seasonal image. It was a memorable sight. It did rain during this long afternoon.
Sunday 25 November
There was 32 mm of rain in the gauge at 0900 hrs. It was rain from the previous day. There was no rain at this place on the 25th. A fairly light mid-day cloudiness did develop. I went to Darwin to do some visiting. This was probably the first substantial rain since the 55 mm on Thursday 8 November. I presume that the growing season resumed after this rain after being out of action for maybe a week or so.
Monday 26 November
Whilst I was in Darwin I saw a possum and lots of birds feeding in a particularly fruitful White Berry Bush tree ( Flueggea virosa ). Yes this one was big enough to call it a tree. It is amazing what protection from fire , a bit of water and a bit of fertiliser can do. This tree really did have a very heavy crop of fruit.
I was very surprised to find that there were no mozzies at all (when I slept on the floor at ground level with the door open) overnight 25-26 November in Rapid Creek, and really quite close to the Mangrove forest. We had a most phenomenal holiday from the mozzies in the late dry season and Spring of 2012.
Tuesday 27 November
It was a hot and sunny day with some clouds. I heard thunder in the distance. There were a few scattered thunderstorms in sight to the South of Solar Village. There were no cooling downdrafts here on that day and we had a warm to hot night.
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Wednesday 28 November
The day was overcast and warm. There was a thunderstorm very nearby to the North at 1400 hrs. It eventually moved away to the S.W. There was very little rain here and a warm night followed. That isolated thunderstorm was all that we got by way of a Full Moon Rain. I don’t think that it was very significant in that way.
Thursday 29 November
The Full Moon occurred at 0016 hrs CST. Two plants came into full flower at the time of this Full Moon. They were the Grey Bloodwood ( Corymbia porrecta ) and the Vitex Bush ( Vitex trifolia ). It was also the first day of flowering for the season for these species at Solar Village.
There was a storm nearby to the North at 0530 hrs, a morning terminator storm. A sunny day, but also a very cloudy day, followed. The mozzies returned, and that was the end of our long holiday from them. I spent most of the day at the annual Natural Resource Management Board Conference in Darwin.
Friday 30 November
It was a much less cloudy day with afternoon showers and a bit of point drizzle at times. The storms missed the Solar Village and there was no cooling downdraft there on this day. I noticed some beetles hard at work demolishing the leaves on a few little Breynia trees ( Breynia cernua ) near Starshine on this day. They did completely defoliate them.
The night began very hot. When I went to bed it was to lie naked on a towel on top of the bed. I went to bed quite early. I felt hot, on top of the bed. The sky was clear and the night did cool down eventually.
Saturday 1 December
At 0500 hrs the temperature in the room was 24 degrees C. Around dawn, geese were flying around in small groups and calling as they flew. The mozzies were, noticeable. One well resonated Green Tree Frog had called at 0420 hrs and there was a froggy dawn chorus at 0457 hrs with the bird song. At dawn there was a cloud bank low down on the E. horizon. As time went by it moved over us and the sky became very cloudy. At 0834 hrs it was overcast. The sky was full of tightly packed cumulus clouds that were just a bit too high up to suggest rain. By 0855 hrs the cloud had evaporated and the Sun was shining in a very hazy sky.
The soil surface was quite dry on this day. The only visible moisture was that in the worm castings. It really is pretty unusual for the soil surface to be dry at the start of December. The days would not be getting as hot as they are, if the soil surface was moist or wet.
New cumulus cloud began to form at 1013 hrs and a light E. breeze began to blow. By 1040 hrs there was 6/8 cloud cover with cumulus cloud blowing over slowly from the E.S.E., and a cooling E. breeze on the ground.
At 1109 hrs the clouds were much bigger and they were blowing over from the N.E.. A light breeze from the N.W. (i.e. up the creek and very probably the start of the sea breeze ) arrived here at 1109
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Hrs. By 1215 hrs there were brief light showers of rain about, and there were lots of little cumulus castellatus clouds. The storms in the mid-afternoon were blowing over from the E.. There were isolated thunderstorms in the late afternoon. I went to bed at 1940 hrs when the temperature in the room was 26 degrees C. Evidently there had been some cooling downdrafts with the afternoon storms. There was a little rain. Maybe 1 mm.
Sunday 2 December
At 0220 hrs the temperature in the room was 24.5 degrees C, the sky was overcast and thunder could be heard. At 0300 hrs on the verandah the temperature was 23.5 degrees C and at 0600 hrs that was the temperature in the room too. A very cool night indeed, with cooling downdrafts from a storm. Another 1 mm or so of rain fell. At 0900 hrs there was 2 mm of rain in the gauge. A very hot and sunny day followed. I drove through rain on my way to Darwin that night.
Monday 3 December
It was another very hot day with isolated thunderstorms in the late afternoon. I arrived home at 2230 hrs to find that it had just stopped raining. A truly beautiful night followed.
Tuesday 4 December
There was 11 mm of rain in the gauge at 0700 hrs. At 0900 hrs a light N. Breeze arrived and a little later the wind went around to the W.. There was mid-day cloudiness and it was a hot day. At 2230 hrs the temperature in the room was 26.5 degrees C.
Wednesday 5 December
At 0440 hrs the temperature was 25.5 degrees C. It was overcast and very hot and humid after dawn. At 0936 hrs the first faint breeze arrived from the E. and at 1230 hrs a sea breeze arrived from the N.. Mid-day cloudiness did not develop. In the early afternoon the temperature reached 36.5 degrees C..
Two storms went up very quickly at 1550 hrs. One from the ‘Thor’ location and one to the E.N.E. of Solar Village. ‘ Simultaneous paired storms’. Are these the two storms that are mentioned in the folklore ? I think that they may indeed have been those storms. Rain began to fall at Starshine at 1713 hrs and the temperature was down to 26.5 degrees by 1747 hrs. There was a lot of lightning and thunder with this storm. We only got 9 mm of rain from the very edge of the storm from the Thor locality.
A very squally thunderstorm with some very strong winds arrived at Sunset time. This storm brought down a lot of firewood, and blew a few trees over. It was a proper kindling wood harvesting storm. After the rain ended the wind was from the N..
Thursday 6 December
In the morning the wind was from the South. From the inland and the continental air mass. There was 17 mm of rain in the gauge at 0900 hrs. It was a humid day, and another very hot day. There was only a very little small cloud. In Darwin they experienced the hottest December day for 36 years. This was attributed to the wind coming from central Australia. The temperature reached 36.5 degrees C at Solar Village.
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I went out of my way to sleep under a ceiling fan overnight 6-7 December. It was a very hot night. In Darwin it was the hottest December night for 36 years.
Friday 7 December
In Darwin they recorded 29 degrees C with 80% relative humidity at 0500 hrs on this day.
It was a very hot and sweaty day here. The temperature reached 36 degrees C at Starshine. A big storm developed to the North in the afternoon and moved away towards Darwin.
I departed from Noonamah at 1744 hrs and drove South to Wrigley Creek. I drove over 4 wet rain storm tracks to get there. There had been 14 mm of rain there and the dam was almost full. There were isolated thunderstorms about and 2 of them brought cooling downdrafts and a little more rain at Wrigley Creek. One of the storms was a very big one from the S.S.E. and it delivered some very strong wind gusts.
Excellent sleeping weather followed with a breeze. A breeze from the North. It was a most unusual night. The breeze was quite strong at times.
Saturday 8 December
At Wrigley Creek it was 26 degrees C and overcast at 0600 hrs. The sky soon cleared to give us another hot and sunny day. The day was devoted to planting native fruit trees at the Eclipse Party Yam Garden. I also sowed some Red Apple tree seeds ( Szyzigium suborbicfulare ) on Bloodwood Ridge, high up in the Bird Tree Creek catchment area. It was very hot and we had a lovely picnic in the shade at the Yam Garden in the early afternoon.
Shortly after dark there was a violent thunder squall that brought big tree limbs, and some whole trees , down as well as a rain of smaller firewood and kindling twigs. Another firewood harvest storm. A second thunderstorm arrived soon after the first one. About 20 mm of rain fell and the dam overflowed. Another cool night followed.
Sunday 9 December
It was a bit chilly before dawn but it reached 34 degrees C later on in the day. The tree planting continued and I sowed more Red Apple tree seeds along Banyan Creek.
Monday 10 December
At 0600 hrs the temperature (inside the room) at Wrigley Creek was 24.5 degrees C. I got away early and drove to Raki via the Rum Jungle Creek South Uranium Mine. I finally got home to Starshine in the afternoon. I arrived as it began to rain there. 13 mm of rain fell, and it was the first rain to fall there since I emptied the gauge at 0900 hrs on Thursday 6 December. This was another very hot day followed by a very warm night. I spent it under a ceiling fan in Darwin.
It was a very dry period. It seems that the only significant falls of rain at Solar village were ; 66 mm on 8 November (before the period under review began) and then ; 32 mm on the long dark afternoon of the 24th of November, the 17 mm on 6 December and the 13 mm on the 10th. This
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Really isn’t very much rain at all for a period of 20 days at this time of the year.
Everybody agreed that it really was very hot. Most geography books say that the maximum heating of the Earth’s surface by the Sun lags 4 to 6 weeks behind the transit of the Sub Solar Point. The very hot night that I recorded on 30 November was near enough 5 weeks after the transit, and the hottest night for 36 years in Darwin on 6 December was near enough 6 weeks after the transit. I suspect that the 2 firewood harvesting storms ( on the 5th and the 8thof December ) were also related to the transit of the actual heat equator over our Latitude.
I am very curious about the matched pair of storms that went up so very suddenly on the afternoon of Wednesday 5 December. There was ‘something’ about them. A sign of the times ?
Mid-day cloudiness was noted on 4 days. One day in 5 on average. Cooling downdrafts were noted on 8 days. Shall we call that 4 days out of every 10 ? That was a real blessing. There were hot nights, but it could have been worse. The soil was dry, and the growing season stalled. Many seedlings and young trees died at this time.
These are a few of the things that I overlooked.
28 November. The Geebungs ( Persoonia falcata ) were in heavy fruit.
2 December. The Black Currant trees ( Antidesma ghaesembilla ) were in heavy fruit.
8 December. I saw new Ironwood tree seedlings ( Erythrophleum chlorostachys ) in very sandy soil on Banyan Creek.
10 December. The Bush Potato ( Eriosema chinense )was in full flower at Lakewood.
And that my friends will just have to do for today, for the Express edition.
Copyright Strider, Humpty Doo, 2013. (first draft 26 March 2013)

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