It’s nighttime. You’re caught in a torrential downpour. Lightning blinds you. Thunder thumps through your body. Wind uproots trees with ease. The buildings are shaking. Bits of them are being torn apart. Time is running out and there appears to be no escape.
Is there a way out of this deadly disaster before it’s too late?
It sounds more like a scene from a movie, doesn’t it?
It isn’t, not in Australia. Each year, people die from unexpected storms just like this one. If the snakes and spiders don’t get you, an Australian flash flood will rise up and devour you.
The collapsing building scenario does happen but, more often than not, storm deaths occur on Australian roads. Drivers find their way into flooded waters all the time. They think they can take their car through what looks to be something of a puddle crossing the road. They take a chance by driving through the water and get swept away in its current. Bodies aren’t found until days later. The warning signs were there. The forecast was accurate and the danger was real. But some drivers still think they know better, especially foreign ones.
The reason this occurs is because, to outsiders, Australia is large yet deceptively flat. When rain falls, it’s hard to know where it’ll flow. Sometimes, there are barely a few hundred millimetres between low and high points over several hundreds of kilometres. What was dry and looked safe a few minutes earlier can become a raging torrent of water within seconds. The high ground could be over an hour’s drive away!
And now you’re asking about the weather in Australia. How is it that such an event can move so quickly and be so devastating? Surely there must be an indication of it before it happens. What kind of rain bomb occurs so fast that it drowns unsuspecting drivers?
There’s no formula to it. Dangerous storms can happen almost anywhere at almost any time of the year. I’ve found the death factor comes down to three primary factors:
- The flatness of Australia
- Defining an Australian Storm
With the flatness issue covered, I now move to mention something of the weather event known as a storm. I know my foreign friends have been shocked at how aggressive our sub-tropical thunderstorms can become. Our storms dump massive amounts of water in extremely short periods of time while their storms are said to be slower, longer, less intense and spread out. It appears that not all storms are the same. This causes misunderstandings among tourists when interpreting our weather forecasts and measuring them against their own country’s forecasts.
It is a brave individual (some say a fool) who crosses flood waters. What looks shallow and slow-moving also appears to be safe. If my sailing experiences have taught me anything about water currents, is that the edges of it move much slower than its middle — and surface currents are not accurate to what’s happening below. By the time you find out that the current is too much for your car to keep a grip on the road, you’re deep in it and drifting away from help. Death is imminent.
My advice about surviving storms is to not go out in them. That’d be about the best time to pick up a copy of my book and start reading it. Knowing what I’ve told you about Australian storms, you’ll have a good head start on the kinds of disasters that’ll unfold inside its pages.
Five women’s bodies are discovered after the nights of thunderstorms. Their spouses are suspected of the crimes, but it becomes clear that someone else is responsible. There’s no blood and few clues. A storm photographer specialising in taking lightning pictures may be the only witness.
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