This week is Get Ready Queensland week. Time to think through and prepare for the challenging part of life in the tropics. As if it hasn’t been challenging enough this year – last year’s lack-lustre wet season, and the long dry spell ever since adds to the usual dangers of the first risky period – fire season. Then there’s the storm season, which occurs around the same time, and compounds the fire season risk because storms often start or fan fires on the Atherton Tablelands, Cape York Peninsula and in the Gulf country.
Then, a couple of weeks from now, cyclone season begins. It’s the period from November to April when cyclones are possible. In recent times, we don’t usually get a cyclone until the monsoon gets going and the wet season is established – that’s usually after Xmas. The Bureau of Meteorology says we can expect a fairly average cyclone season this year
Every time we go through fires, major storms, monsoonal flooding or cyclones, ABC Far North goes into over-drive, providing weather warnings, live coverage as events unfold. And then we’re there for weeks, often months afterwards, reporting on recovery efforts and keeping affected communities informed. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in 12 years of that stuff, it’s that people who prepare ahead of disasters are almost always the ones who recover first and best. So the best advice I can give is now’s the time to prepare.
With that in mind, I accepted an invitation from Cheryl Matthews at the Tablelands Regional Council to go to Atherton to do a live radio show from their Get Ready Queensland week event at the Atherton SES headquarters. As we drove up from Cairns, I was thinking about what we could do to illustrate the message of the day – that now is the time to get ready. Cheryl had assembled a who’s who of local government, emergency responders, disaster management and planning people and I knew they’d be great on the radio. But how do you really drive home the point – that we’re heading in to a dangerous time of year and we’ve got to be ready for anything.
As we drove along, the clouds began to get organised. They formed up into some impressive towering cumulo-nimbus as we set up the broadcast gear out back of the SES building. There was plenty of “what do you reckon that’s gonna do” as show time approached, and the consensus was it might miss us, but we put up the shelter just in case and began making back-up plans. Then we’re on the air, and by the end of the first interview some heavy drops of rain began to fall. Within minutes, a classic Atherton Tablelands storm was upon us, thunder, lightning, rain, marble-sized hail. Amazingly, we were able to stay on the air and all our guests found shelter and did really well on the radio. But the storm stole the show, just a bit, and helped us all make the point – get ready. Now!
There’s plenty of valuable information for Tablelands residents here
If you live in the Cairns Regional Council area go here
For Cassowary Coast residents, this is the link for you
And if you live in Cook Shire go here
So what’s it like, doing a live radio show underneath a thunderstorm? LISTEN here
Photos by Olivia Dye, Bluey Forsyth, Norm Beck, Peter Rinaudo & yours truly.