Catastrophic Skies

Today its a beautiful day and such a contrast to yesterday. Today it is sunny, about 25 degrees and not much wind is blowing. Yesterday the weather was scorching hot, windy and dangerous, the culmination of a hot spell of four difficult days over 40 degrees. Because of the extreme heat and the strong northerly winds, yesterday was rated by the fire authorities as “Catastrophic”. That is the highest and most dangerous rating and it means that if a bushfire starts in these conditions it cannot be controlled and it is life threatening to anyone in its path.

Our fire safety plan here at Skilly is simple. We abandon our home on any day that is rated Catastrophic. It would be sad if our home was to burn down but we won’t be in it if that happens. Safety first. Usually we take a few important belongings and drive to Adelaide for the day and sometimes overnight too. We have lived at Skilly for about ten years but until this summer only had to flee twice I think. Already this summer we have had to leave three times before the new year.

Yesterday we drove to Gawler rather than all the way to Adelaide, had a meal and enjoyed a movie at the cinema. I haven’t been to a cinema for years and had forgotten how much I enjoy the experience. The air conditioning was welcome too because by this stage the outside temperature was around 42 degrees. A cool change was predicted during the afternoon so we decided to return home late in the afternoon.

On our way home the car’s thermometer started at 41 degrees in Gawler and dropped a few degrees as we drove north. Near Tarlee the road was wet from what looked like quite heavy rain and the temperature was only 35 degrees and not much wind. Further north however we drove through dry, squally winds and 40 degrees again.

Dust moving across the dry paddocks, heading south.
More dust

Just before Auburn, with home not far away, the skies ahead were dark grey and brown. We drove into a dust storm for several kilometres. The hot north wind was lifting sand off the dry paddocks. Some of it found its way high into the sky and some was travelling above the ground in dense plumes. Some also found its way into my eyes and mouth when I foolishly opened the window to take a photo.

It was too dusty to open the window so this is what it looked like through the windscreen.

The dust storm was intense but lasted for only for a few kilometres. By the time we drove through Auburn amazingly the dust was gone, the sky was dark grey and the wind abated. Such variation in the weather!

Just north of Auburn. It doesn’t really look like 40 degrees out there. Some rain in the distance and dry combustible stubble in the sunlight.

When we got home it was still hot and I wondered if we should have stayed away longer, just in case. But the predicted cool change arrived soon afterwards. What a day. Thankfully there are no serious bushfires in our region but that is not the case in other parts of the state and nation where tragedies continue.

3 thoughts on “Catastrophic Skies

  1. Yesterday was deadly hot! Thank you for catching the moments. Your colour of photos show and tell the story. Yes, an experience of being in theatre was great. People were laughing and having fun, too. Thank you for the opportunity, Jeff!


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