Friday, April 19, 2013


Volume 1, Part 6 A heatwave and then the creek begins to flow
1-20 January 2013, a period of 20 days
Tuesday 1 January 2013-04-19
There was another hot night and the wind was from the N.E. which put us in the rain-shadow downwind from the mountains in New Guinea, and in air warmed by compression as it returned to sea level from those mountains. A hot day with some clouds followed. Storms were visible inland from Darwin. I was in Darwin on that day. There was no rain and no cooling downdrafts there.
Wednesday 2 January 2013.
In Darwin there was another hot night. I noticed that it was very quiet. Quite like a night in the dead of winter in fact. There was very little in the way of bird calls frog or insect noises. It was a little spooky. There were some clouds at dawn and it was overcast with low dark cloud at 0624 hrs. At 0638 hrs the air temperature was 29 degrees C. That was the time of the first light breeze for the day. The sky was full of tightly packed cumulus clouds.
I made it home to Starshine to celebrate the Perihelion at 1430 hrs CST. I noticed that there was a lot of cloud over the Tiwi Islands and Coburg Peninsular after the morning overcast broke up.
Thursday 3 January 2013.
There was 4.5 mm of rain in the gauge at 0900 hrs. A mid-afternoon thunderstorm brought some rain and some very cooling downdrafts. The temperature went down to 26.5 degrees C.
Friday 4 January 2013.
There was 9 mm of rain in the gauge at 0900 hrs. There were storms about during the day.
Saturday 5 January 2013.
I drove to Wrigley Creek and arrived just in time for an evening thunderstorm.
Monday 7 January 2013.
I was not there myself but a neighbour tells me that there were 2 thunderstorms at the Solar Village. One in the afternoon, and one in the evening.
Tuesday 8 January 2013.
I got home to Starshine at 1400 hrs to find 76 mm of rain in the gauge. I think that all of it was from the storms on the 7th. We finally got lucky with the isolated thunderstorms and got two in one day.
Friday 11 January 2013.
It was another very warm night although it did eventually cool down to 25 degrees C at 0530 hrs. A hot day followed. The Australian continent as a whole experienced an extreme heat wave in early January. It was very hot here if we didn’t get a cooling downdraft from a storm.
In the mid-afternoon thunderstorms began to arrive from the East and there were cooling downdrafts. Rain began to fall at 1750 hrs and the temperature went down to 27 degrees C. 4.5 mm of rain fell from that storm.
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The maps showed an inactive monsoon trough right on top of us, and moving out to sea. This was the same relatively inactive monsoon trough that had passed over us on its way South on the afternoon of Thursday 27 December 2012. So ; all told, it had been over us or to the South of us for 16 days. It came onto the continent very close to the time of the Full Moon (which was as 1951 hrs on Friday 28 December), and it went back out to sea just before the Dark Moon on Saturday 12 January.
Saturday 12 January 2013.
The Dark Moon occurred at 0515 hrs on this day. Some friends visited me to help me plant some trees. It was overcast, calm, humid and dim at 1130 hrs. It was overcast all day and very hot and humid. Towards sunset time a dark storm appeared in the N.E. sky. It was moving very fast and it was coming straight at us. It was still daylight as we hurried for shelter and a moment later when we were on the verandah it was night time and it was raining. The sudden arrival of the night was phenomenal. None of us could recall another occasion on which night had fallen so abruptly. There was a great deal of thunder and lightning with this storm. There was 56 mm of rain in the gauge at 2230 hrs. Drizzle was still falling at that time. I noticed a gathering of snails on the ashy floor of an old campfire when I went to read the rain gauge. Earlier in the day I had noticed some ripe fruit on some Canthium Trees ( Canthium lucidum ) along the creek.
Sunday 13 January 2013.
The drizzle ended at 0200 hrs but it began to rain again a little later and there were at least two more showers of rain (without any thunder) between then and dawn. It was a steady gentle light monsoon rain. It was a flood rain. At 0736 hrs the air temperature was 24.5 degrees C and light rain was falling. I went for a walk and discovered that the creek was running, at last. At 0800 hrs a Channel Billed Cuckoo was calling and the rain seemed to be easing. There was a total of 75 mm of rain in the gauge at 0900 hrs (including the 56 mm already mentioned in the record for the 12th). The Babblers were calling to the N.W. at 0910 hrs.
It is a fact that some of our heaviest rainfalls are associated with the transit of the monsoon trough or the Inter- tropic Convergence (the ITC). It did rather seem as if the trough that was “over head and going out to sea” on Friday the 11th had turned around and crossed the coast again, heading back inland with that very dark storm at nightfall on Saturday the 12th.
The rain associated with this latest transit event (and a Dark Moon rain at that) started the creek running. It is fairly normal for the creek to start flowing in mid-January. I think that we could call the event “on time” this year.
Monday 14 January 2013.
I spent the night 13-14 January at Lakewood and I was up early to inspect the Olive Hymenachne ( Hymenachne acutigluma ) weed infestation with Glen Roberts of the Litchfield Council (and others).
We found the effected area flooded, and agreed that further action would have to wait until the area dried out again.
The commonest type of Paperbark Tree here in this district, the Green Flowered Paperbark Tree ( Melaleuca viridiflora ) was in flower generally in the district on this day. The perfume was very nice.
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Tuesday 15 January 2013.
I slept in my own bed at Starshine overnight 14-15 January. I was up early. The mozzies were very noticeable, if not actually bad, on that morning. Rain associated with the latest transit of the ITC (as it went inland) began at 1430 hrs. By 1500 hrs there was 13.5 mm of rain in the gauge. The monsoon burst remains very weak and it produces very little rain.
Wednesday 16 January 2013.
In something of a turn up for the books the mozzies were gone. Their absence was very noticeable.
There had been a very long and a very heavy fruiting season for the Opilia Vines ( Opilia amentacea ) . For only the second time in my experience this fruiting has attracted a great many Nutmeg Pigeons to the Solar Village. The very large number of Opilia Vines here today is a direct result of the way that the Nutmeg Pigeons spread the seeds around on the previous occasion. I think that the Opilias are a kind of a drought reserve that the pigeons use in hard times. On the previous occasion some of the pigeons roosted here for the duration but this does not seem to be the case this time. At 0710 hrs on the 16th the pigeons were arriving in dribs and drabs from the North East. There were a lot of them
From December and into January their wing claps as they flew away was the soundtrack to every walk in the bush. They would be disturbed by me, and fly up, up and away, before me. I grew to rather like the sound.
On this day I noticed that the Fan Leaved Bloodwood Trees ( Corymbia foelscheana ) were in very heavy flower. I can not recall ever seeing them in such heavy flower before. There was speculation that the very dry season that we were having was resulting in heavy fruiting because the development of the flowers and fruits was not retarded by periods of water-logging in the soil. There was enough rain. It was frequent enough, and there was enough sunshine. Many plants seemed to be doing particularly well in this season. Established plants that is. It was too dry for new seedlings. At night the Black Flying foxes were attracted in large numbers to the flowering Bloodwood Trees and their calls provided the soundtrack to the nights.
Thursday 17 January 2013.
The morning was overcast. The air was at 24.5 degrees C at 0800 hrs after a cool downdraft in the night. There was no rain and the mozzies had returned.
At 0945 hrs there was a mob of Nutmeg Pigeons in the Opilia near the big Bush Peanut Tree ( Sterculia quadrifida ) to the N.E. of Starshine. It was calm, cool and dim.
Friday 18 January 2013.
It was overcast at dawn. At 0945 hrs there was a monsoon shower and distant thunder. The weather conditions that developed locally very soon after that suggested a rain band of clouds, like the rain bands that are associated with Tropical Cyclones. I drove to Darwin but it was dry there. Later on in the day there were rain band conditions there too. I spent the night in Darwin.
Shortly before midnight the Green Tree Frogs began to sing “First Burst”, my favourite song.
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Saturday 19 January 2013.
At dawn the Green Tree Frogs sang “Wurrk”. It had rained a lot. It continued to rain on and off.
Sunday 20 January 2013.
I arrived home to Starshine at about 0010 hrs. I had a long sleep. At 1030 hrs there was 75 mm of rain in the gauge (accumulated since 1500 hrs on the 15th). There was a low in the Gulf of Carpentaria and the rain bands that we experienced were flowing into it. I think that almost all of the rain in the gauge would have fallen from those rain bands on the 18th and the 19th.
For the first 10 days of this period we had a return to build-up conditions. We had isolated thunderstorms, mostly in the afternoon and evening. This was in stark contrast with the previous period 27-31 December 2012 when we had rain associated with the transit of the monsoon trough ( going inland ). The first 10 days of January saw extreme heat wave conditions all over the Australian continent. It was a phenomenal event.
On the 11th the monsoon trough ( in a particularly inactive state ) was right on top of us and going out to sea. It then hesitated, and turned back passing over us on its way back inland at nightfall on the 12th. Rain associated with this latest transit of the trough and the ITC continued until the 15th.
During the period 18-20 January 2013 there were monsoonal conditions related to a low near Nhulunbuy.
And that my friends was how the new year began in the very fruitful forest here at Horns Creek.
Copyright, Strider, Humpty Doo, 2013-04-20
First published on the blog
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1 comment:

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