2 March 2007

Storm cell zeros in on Canberra

| Gungahlin Al
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[First filed: February 27, 2007 @ 23:06]


Well the storm pictures have been so wildly popular they’re wreaking havoc on our server and internet connection. A big hello to all the new readers.

If all you want to do is see pretty storm pictures then here’s a slideshow for you and youtube can cover the costs (now updated with our full set of pics and a sound track courtesy of The Lavans):

(incidentally version 1.0 of this video was so wildly successful that it picked up the following honours on YouTube:
#52 – Most Viewed (Today) – News & Politics – All
#58 – Top Favorites (Today) – News & Politics – All
#19 – Most Linked (Today) – News & Politics – All)

Details on the provenance of the pictures below:

[ED – FYI the SMH is now on the story apparently it was a “supercell thunderstorm”, and now here’s how the story involved from 11.06 pm 27-FEB-07]

I can’t find one of those fabled alerts anywhere logical like the SES, Canberra Connect, ACT Govt, ABC local or similar websites, but the BOM is warning this one could be bad, and from the look of the radar shot – a big black blotch right over Canberra – someone’s going to cop it.

The lighnting show is something else – bursts at least every second – never seen such rapid fire lightning…

Watching the radar over the last hour, this cell just appeared out of nowhere just south of Hall.

[ED – used a slightly more recent image than the one Al sent in. One hell of a storm and a caution against relying on the warning system for something as unreliable as storms in the mountains]

UPDATED: And pictures!

If you missed them, these ones are doing the email rounds, please don’t send them to me again, much as i appreciated the two dozen large sets of pictures I’ve had (if the photographer would like a credit, please get in touch):

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And here’s another one doing the rounds:

Also Leonie sent these in from the Civic Pool carpark this morning:

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SamTSeppo has been in at ANU cataloging the aftermath:

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From last night these from Angus in Turner:

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And these from Bartron in Duffy:

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Also, here’s the view from Yass as is doing the rounds:

And more forwarded slip sliding action in Civic:

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And here’s a look at what Kerces found when she got out and about in Civic at lunchtime:

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cool youtube clip….just watched it. Only prob is that my photos were marked as “yass – photographer unknown” and the photos from yass were marked “photos over duffy – bartron”…still…I got a bit of publicity

RA – Great work with the utube clip – I was lucky enough to be tucked in at home watching tele when the storm hit – and I dont work in the city – so would never have known the extent of the storm if it wasn’t for your great reporting. Great soundtrack too!
Keep up the great work.

I have to admit my flattie and I were amused when we watched the weather report on prime at about 10.30pm that night – which reported nothing about a storm (whilst we were being hailed on!) 🙂

Should we be worried about the new Canberra Centre bulding? I know they rushed it at the end, and now it is leaking like a sieve.

tintin and the wild weather

Samuel Gordon-Stewart8:32 am 01 Mar 07

No problems LMT, just thought it was a bit unfair to portray 2CC as having no local content…I saw the joke, but that was only because I know something about the topic.

I over reacted, so I’m sorry too.

And Johnboy, not true, there are many fun and entertaining things worth a chuckle or more on talkback radio to my mind…would hardly be worth listening to if there wasn’t something entertaining mixed in with all the serious stuff.

Looks like I’ve hijacked another thread…please ignore me and carry on with storm discussion.

la mente torbida8:28 am 01 Mar 07

I never laugh at talkback radio

Talkback radio is no laughing matter to SGS LMT.

la mente torbida8:22 am 01 Mar 07

Hey SGS, lighten up! It was meant as a bit of humour (okay so my sense of humour needs a bit of work). I’m sorry it has offended you so greatly.

Samuel Gordon-Stewart5:38 pm 28 Feb 07

la mente torbida, why I bother to respond to you I’ll never know, but for your information 2UE in Sydney (and therefore 2CC here in Canberra) were taking plenty of calls from people (myself included) about the storm after 11pm. 2CC’s local coverage started at 5:30.

Apart from that, I live in Reid so the chances of me not knowing there was a storm even if I didn’t have access to the media is minimal…and a quick look at my website would have confirmed that. Scroll past the photos and you will see my small effort to keep my readers updated on the storm.

If you’re going to insult me about which radio station I listen to, at least have a vague idea about what you’re talking about first.

ESA were impossible to get thru to on NYE also.

Another ESA stuff up. Lucky for them – Stanhope will be the fall guy for them again (ala bushfires 2003).

I was amused to hear on the radio that “only 100 people” called them last night. My wife, with baby screaming in fright, failed to get them to answer for 45 mins (ie if you’re going to be an Emergency Service – at least scale for an emergency). In the end she gave up and helped me bail out the garage and living room from knee deep water.

There’s a house down the street with a mud tide mark half way up the house…

just had a quick look at the piccies
holy bejeesus!
just glad it didn’t storm like that on Monday night, I would have never gotten ‘home’.
Stoopid airport delays.

huge black cloud rolling in ATT

well that was short and sweet. maybe it will hit hard later this evening.

Prince’s comments aren’t surprising. Put it this way – the local weather bureau office was closed (Sydney was on call), most newsrooms were unmaned, and the ESA made a call which I’m sure they’ll regret.

I work in a restaurant at the ANU, and we were open today, but nearly every skylight in every bulding has been smashed in, and several roofs, including the brand new one built after the fire at the Research School of Chemistry, and parts of the chifley library have actually collapsed under the weight of the ice. Known damage estimates have already resulted in multi million dollar repair bill, and more damage is still being discovered. Students in some courses, possibly all can expect to be off classes for the rest of the week. (but if you don’t show up and get in trouble don’t blame me)

There has been some who wish to (not) blame this on GW. How to tell is if it is bad then certainly we are to blame for our wicked lifestyle. Personally I think that shit happens and we try to just cope with it.

Fhakk, I dunno about “couldn’t get through”…From ABC News article:

“Meanwhile the acting Commissioner of the Emergency Services Agency (ESA), David Prince, says the ESA failed to warn the public in time of last night’s storm.

Mr Prince says the ESA was notified of a severe storm just after 9pm AEDT by the Bureau of Meteorology, yet failed to issue an general public alert till later.

Mr Prince says that the ESA was occupied trying to get crews out in time and he accepts that a warning should have been issued earlier.

“The officers that were on duty made a decision not send it out at that time,” he said.

“I have spoken to them they have in my view erred from our practices so we just have to make sure we improve that in the future.”

The ESA has warned of the possibility of another severe thunderstorm in Canberra this afternoon or tonight.”

Meanwhile, Bungendore’s getting a bit right now, with several (less intense-looking so far) cells moving in on Canberra from the NW.

The new SES phone number got a bit of a work-out – the overflow (so to speak) went to the ACT fire brigade after Canberra Connect got inundated with calls.

ESA were unable to send out any warnings to the media because both Telstra and Optus were down. Journos like myself get an sms warning about blue/yellow warnings, but we got nothing, and emails were fickle because the Civic exchange was screwed. We relied on phone calls from friends, who reported golf-ball sized hail punching holes through corrugated roofs. Kudos to the SES blokes on the ground last night. Australian War Memorial was badly affected by the storms, the ANU looks like it will be closed for the rest of the week, and we got ourselves another yellow warning for tonight. Was hell trying to coordinate the coverage this morning…ABC, 2CC, 104 all had difficulties by the sound of things. This looks worse than the NYE storms, except this time most of the media was asleep and not on holidays.

I heard that the pool at the Novotel in the City shifted during the storm making the Jolimont centre unsafe? Any truth behind it?

Wish the storm had hit UC… that could have been handy!

Woody Mann-Caruso3:41 pm 28 Feb 07

Does the BoM have an RSS feed for its warnings?

ABC has a good video news update, including footage from last night, here:

Spoke too soon. it’s just starting.

It has now been confirmed:

The ANU campus is closed for the entire week!

No lectures, tutorials or laboratory sessions will be held on Wednesday (today), Thursday or Friday. Staff are encouraged to work from home.

Cool looks like i’m goin to be hit with it tonigh if the warning on BOM is anything to go by.

There is no Dog 😛

Just in case anyone doesn’t know what a flood is, or how to mop up afterwards, the ACT Government has just released a fact sheet giving us all this elusive information.

Good to see our rate increases at work.

@RandonGit – That’s natures way of saying “weeee….this is fun”. Don’t get the bitch angry.

Yes, the massive numbers of people coming to the site have made the server squirelly, I’ve tweaked some setting that should mean that while it will run slow, it will also continue to run.

There was also an outage by our ISP to ad to the fun.

Al if you’ve got a question about your privileges as an author it’s best to email them rather than discuss them here.

la mente torbida1:18 pm 28 Feb 07

I wonder if Samuel Gordon-Stewart passed the morning in blissful ingnorance, or did John Laws interrupt his commercials to broadcast updates? 🙂

from the radar it looks like that one will go around us…

la mente torbida1:17 pm 28 Feb 07

Wonder if Samuel Gordon-Stewart passed the morning in blissful ingnorance, or did John Laws interrupt his commercials?

Jazz: thanks for looking into it – the site has been near impossible to even get onto since about 10am. And really cool that I’ve got “Edit this” coming up on every single entry (not just mine).
So I could go fix up Barking Toad’s entries and turn him into a global warming campaigner! 🙂

here comes the next one:

[BOM Link]

Word around the traps is that the ANU will be closed for the rest of the week. There is a meeting with the Acting Vice Chancellor at midday to discuss further.

watson, nothing. seemed to stop just before dickson…

Anyone know how hard Watson got hit. Hope my poor dogs are ok.

barking toad11:04 am 28 Feb 07

And that should be “..global warming alarmists”

Mind is slow today – bloody global cooling wetness.

barking toad11:03 am 28 Feb 07

Correction noted Al. Thanks.

But you credit me with too much knowledge.

Probably more accurate to say – “….better than 99% of the entire world community of global alarmists.”


God’s a pussy if that was the best he could do.

he he. I’m sure the news will get through in bits til its everywhere by this avo.

My main concern was that so many canberrans going about ther ordinary mornings wouldn’t have known not to drive all three cars to work… unless they listen to local news, the right station, at the right times 🙂
But hey, serves you right for not listening, yeah!

We’re taking a close look to see if it is our systems ability to server pages, or probs with the transact network slowing things up. The first we can do something about with a bit of extra hardware, the second, we dont have a lot of control over

Does this mean that God has no confidence in Stanhope?

There have been bits and pieces on it up here in sydney howdy.

That’s La Nina, not El Nina, Barking Toad, whose grasp of global warming is so much better than 99% of the entire world community of climate scientists.

Locally, the traffic on City Hill is at a standstill, and the hill itself is still white.
Buildings all around are still covered in ice up to half metre deep, with some poor sod on top of Saraton shovelling out the gutters.
Garema Court’s top floor is flooded, and there is water damage in 10 & 12 Mort St that I’m aware of.
Most of our team have turned around and gone home rather than sit in stationary traffic.
Not a high productivity day in the Nation’s capital today…

And the RA site seems to be near collapse under the strain of being the most current news source in Canberra…

Ari, been trying with limited success for nearly 30 years. I should probably take up smoking to have some other nervous habit.

i dont think it matters what floor you are on. I’m on the 9th (of 12) of my building and we have wet carpet near every emergency exit.

Get a grip people, no such thing as global warming.

SamTSeppo! Stop chewing your fingernails!

Exactly 666 CANBERRA

Would be nice it it was an immediate NATIONAL news item of importance. We are the capital no?

We got a lot of lightning and thunder last night but only a little bit of rain and i live in Chisholm, we got lucky i guess, although last time we had a huge storm we got battered, so maybe it was the norths turn this time!

howdy, 666 ABC Canberra had extensive coverage of damage and closures, from 5am this morning.

I feel your pain VY – my desk is currently in the middle of a big patch of wet carpet, which smells delightful!

barking toad9:31 am 28 Feb 07

Global warming is indeed complex shabby. As is global cooling.

The dynamics of the earths environs are ever thus.

Unfortunately some have latched onto some aspects of it and have become evangelical about it.

But, back to more local things. Be ready for a wetter autumn as the El Nino reverses and trends to an El Nina.

Poor traffic this morning. It’s a pity canberra didn’t get much of a mention on more than I on local radio? As i can’t stand sitting through 30 mins of Nickelback to hear a news ‘flash’ we heard and saw nothing on tv last night or this morning when we tried. Nothing on triple j and we missed anything on prime & win this morn too.

All the traffic this morn seem to have been thinking ‘ooh it might rain lets take the car today’. It would be nice to have canberra news considered ‘big news’ nationally so there’s some obvious warning for our morning traffic.

Pictures pictures! post pictures for us peoples 🙂

We drove through civic at 1pm last night from the Bronx show. At the ‘hill’ at the top of northbourne we saw what looked like a firetruck directing us around an accident involving a bus. There appeared to be a bit of what I thought was accident covering foam on the ground. We were then slowed right down by a freaked out fireman. After seeing what was really round the corner that fireman was my new best friend hero type guy.

Everyone was pretty well behaved and careful on northbourne, apart from the fact I went through a green light only to see a car coming the other way pass straight behind me, but i figure it may have been more unsafe for him to stop, or he was just very distracted… But then obviously so was I!

It was very cold, very icy and foggy in parts, alarms going of everywhere, yet still very quiet and very eerie.

Global warming is a good deal more complex than “everyone gets hotter”, BT. More like “Everyone gets hotter, drier summers; bigger storms and longer droughts.”

Cook got poleaxed last night. All the trees on my street are missing limbs and most of their leaves. The bloke two doors down has a tree on his garage. My lovingly-cared-for garden is looking very sad 🙁

barking toad9:11 am 28 Feb 07

Expect more of this wet weather and it will get colder.

It’s nature’s way of saying Gorebal Warming is bullshit.

And a measured response from Mother Nature to Al getting a gold plated statue for Best Science Fiction.

VYBerlinaV8 now_with_added grunt9:10 am 28 Feb 07

Out at Jerrabomberra we had a spectacular (almost scary) view of the cell moving in against a clear night sky. We got some good lightning and some nice steady rain to (re)wet the garden.

This morning the building I’m in in Civic has been flooded and theres water all over the carpet, and ceiling tiles are collapsing in. And I’m on the third floor!

The guy with a face like the back of a bus…

captainwhorebags8:59 am 28 Feb 07

Telstra regional manager (the guy from the ads on the side of the busses) said that Civic exchange had 5cm of water on every floor and that took out a lot of services over night. Apparently it’s all back on line or close to it, but some data services may still be affected. Single point of failure?

I got caught in the storm at Hawker at around 10pm, and my friends and I heard it coming before it actually arrived.. There was one hell of a light show – we ended up driving to Belconnen car park to avoid all of the hail, and Belconnen Way was havoc – we counted at least two cars off the side of the road and weren’t going any faster than 20km/h. Positively the worst (best?) storm I’ve ever seen. And to make things even better – I’m one of those fortunate ANU students that now gets a day to do nothing better than sleep!

Just saw pics on sunrise of the aftermath almost looked as though you’s were dumped with a bucket of snow with all that hail. Beats the storm we had the other day.

Danman: I know the thunderclap you’re talking about – it was a bewty. But don’t fret about lost photo ops – most of the lightning was up on top of the cell – you only got to see around the fringes underneath most of the time (from my place anyway).
The trees from Ainslie down to Civic have copped a shredding – birds too.
The Civic skatebowl and Garmea Place have “snow drifts”, and Canberra Centre is indeed totally shut down – car parks included except the Target Reserve – THAT is gonna spoil a few people’s mornings let me tell you.
You can see a lot of water lying around the floors inside.
What is it actually hard to build a roof that stops water getting in or something???
In a place where it hails and occasionally snows, don’t they know to build guttering large enough to prevent back-ups? Are some engineers and designers swotting up on the fine print in their professional liability insurance policies this morning?

ANU is indeed totally closed. Just pedalled onto it and was told that I could go no farther due to flood damage. So I did, anyway (lots of folks are doing it) and snapped some photos. Flooding in the buildings looks pretty minor (some wet carpets is all I could see), but there’s a great cover of hail all over the grassy areas.

Woody Mann-Caruso8:36 am 28 Feb 07

Radio is reporting that the Canberra Centre, all its car parks, and the ANU are closed.

that was a corker of a storm. We got soaked but no hail. The light show (4-5 strikes per second) came right over the top of us. I wanted to stand outside to watch but my wife wouldn’t let me.

Awesome force of nature

Growling Ferret8:26 am 28 Feb 07

We were playing softball at Hawker when the lightning starting about 8:30 or so, generally lighting up the sky to the south. It seemed a long way away until the light in the carpark 30 metres away was struck – I have never seen 20 blokes get the hell under cover so quickly… You could smell the ozone, and everyones hair was standing on end – pretty impressive really…

Yeah from my deck you have 270 degree views from left of Mt Majura to Black Mountain on the far right – usually a good vantage point for lightning viewing.

All I have to show for last nights storm is a bloody sore neck from a lightning blast at about 1030 that took me from several layers of sleep to a very heightened state of awareness in a nanosecond and in doing so has written off my neck for a few days.

Im a Gittin old heh

Dan it was quite spectacular from Gungahlin, a good view of the storm cell and lightning, but no rain.

It built up over Belconnen for at least an hour, and was rotating.

Just walked in from Haig Park to Civic – looks like a cyclone went through – hail still banked up on walls – the art shops garage got flooded – hail and foilage damage everywhere – must have thrown it down – I was woken by a loud clap at about 11pm in Gunghalin – but thats all I knew – wish I knew about the frequency of the lightning – I would have been keen to snap off a few memory cards.

Ingeegoodbee6:50 am 28 Feb 07

We got some seriously heavy rain and a kick arse light shown down in Kambah. I cant recall such high frequency lightening. I once spent a night in a fire tower down near the NSW/Vic border and we watched 600-odd lightening strikes over a couple of hours but last night seemed like a constant assault.

There is a guy from the Bushfire CRC who is interviewing people around Canberra about how to improve emergency warnings so the message gets through. I was interested to see if the BOM warning was reflected anywhere else, for those not watching TV or listening to the radio.
The SES website had this statement:

“How will I find out a warning has been issued?

The ACT Emergency Services Agency will advise the Canberra community of warnings in a number of ways.
– Through the following local Canberra media outlets:
FM 104.7 Mix 106.3 1206 2CC 1053 2CA ABC 666
– Through Canberra Connect on 13 22 81
– Through this website

Neither “this website” or Canberra Connect had any warnings last night. I guess the following qualifier on the SES site covers off any events so inconvenient as to occur at night time:

“What will happen if a warning is issued out of normal business hours?
“The ACT Emergency Services Agency has arrangements in place with the media outlets listed above to ensure emergency warnings are broadcast at any time of the day or night 365 days a year.”

My girlfriend and I were watching Letters from Iwo Jima in Cinema 1 of Dendy, the 9.30 session. At about a quarter to eleven the sound of rain started to drown out the gunfire, and on the hour the roof sprung a few leaks. It was pouring out of a few places along the midline of the cinema, and soon staff started rushing in with buckets and the film was stopped.

Everyone was told to stay in the building, at first, due to the huge hailstorm, but after ten minutes or so we were told to gtfo. As far as I know it was raining inside every cinema, including the two premium lounge cinemas. Everyone was told that if they present their stub, they would get one complimentary admission. I see an exploitable situation here…

Outside, the ice was piled up and people unfamiliar with these road conditions were driving like idiots. I’m not surprised there were lots of accidents tonight. The hail seemed to end as close as Lonsdale St to the north, and maybe as far as the Uni in the west.

Al Gore was right.

We were in Civic when the first drops appeared there. By the time we got to the ANU, it was torrential, couldn’t see for more then, say, 20-30m. We took shelter in the ANU, under the roof of the entrance to ANU Tech. It turned out that where Daley Road and North Road meet (100m into the ANU from Barry Drive) was about a meter deep in water.

3 cars ended up getting stuck in the water, the roads were icy, generally a crap place to be. The fire brigade turned up and told the people to get out of their stuck cars, then they left. So my sister and me, and a few other people, directed all the cars away from there until the police showed up after 25mins or so (and about 2mins after we called).

The police (or whoever answers their phones) told us that there were over 50 reports of cars crashed or stuck in a flood on Parks Way alone.

Chifley just had an amazing light show from about 8.30 to 12. The last of the lightning bursting out against the clear sky just before 12 was beautiful.

we got flooded here in Campbell – over 25ml of rain/hail (overflowed the guage in 20 mins)

adeptacheese11:42 pm 27 Feb 07

my windows was open and my bed got wet 🙁

Piles of rain and hail here in Macquarie. It got very noisy for about 20 minutes, and a hell of a lot of rain came down.


This is the hail that hit my house, and I was just on the edge of the storm in north O’Connor. Flooded the garage!

We’re in Reid, and there is a carpet of ice on the ground, banked up against our balcony door, and on the roof opposite. It was very intense, very loud, and now there’s clear sky and lightning vanishing out to the east.

I checked the BOM site, and there was a warning issued at 9.01 for severe hail … and then a cancellation of that warning issued at 9.09pm. Odd.

just passed over ainslie with some pretty big hailstones, will send the pic to johnboy. but seems like nothing else is happening here for now.

the lightning was pretty incredible!

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