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GOT A CYCLONE STORY, PHOTO OR MEMORABILIA? THE MUSEUM OF TROPICAL QUEENSLAND WOULD LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU

CYCLONE LARRY - BEST VIEWED FROM FAR AWAY

CYCLONE LARRY – BEST VIEWED FROM FAR AWAY

I’m writing this on a wet and very windy Cairns evening. We’ve had 40 knot winds along our coast today, with a gale warning issued by the Bureau of Meteorology. It’s being driven by an unusual combination of weather – a wet north-westerly air flow higher up in the atmosphere. and a wet south-easterly at lower altitudes. And it’s very rare to have gale force winds in far north Queensland when there’s no cyclone in the neighbourhood.

Ooops. Sorry for using the “C” word! We’ve only had to use it once this wet season – when cyclone Oswald came out of the Gulf of Carpentaria in January and hit western Cape York Peninsula. Oswald was a “little fella” – a category one that did some damage around FNQ, but did its worst much further south as a rain depression. And Oswald was a traveller. He made it all the way to Sydney.

It’s been a below average wet season in FNQ, and the forecasters reckon we may have seen the last of the monsoon. It seems we’ve made it through the wet season without a major cyclone. If you’ve never been through one, count yourself lucky. Cyclones are about the worst thing nature can throw at you. We usually know they’re coming several days ahead, so there’s a long time in which to prepare and worry. The event itself is terrifying, with real risk to life and property lasting for hours. It’s the worst form of sensory overload, and when it’s over, the ordeal is really just beginning. It’s time to clean up, repair and rebuild, start again. That can take weeks, months, years, and in the early stages, you’ll be without so many of the things we take for granted – power, phone, ATMs, the Internet, shops, water, roads. It’s a challenging time, and poses real risk to your emotional well-being.

Thankfully, these days, there are people and agencies expert in helping us recover from natural disasters. And they tell us one of the best things you can do is to talk to each other – tell those cyclone stories. It might not be easy at first, but it gets easier and it does help make sense of the disaster you’ve just been through. And it helps others who’ve been there too, and can help people prepare for next time, especially people who have yet to experience a cyclone.

And let’s face it – cyclone stories can be amazing tales of the power of nature, of courage and the resilience of the human spirit. The Museum of Tropical Queensland in Townsville is about to put on an exhibition about cyclones in our part of the world – and they’d like your help.

If you’ve had first-hand experience with cyclones, tornados and other “big blows”, they’d like to hear from you. The exhibition will tell the story of how these fierce weather events have shaped the lives of North Queenslanders. The exhibition will look at cyclones that have affecyed  North Queensland over the past 100 years with a focus on how the community has prepared for, lived through, cleaned up and counted the cost after each  disaster. The Museum is keen to gather stories, photos and memorabilia about north Queensland cyclones since the early 1900s.

LISTEN Click on the red arrow to hear exhibition curator Robert de Jong talk about the exhibition and how you can help make it an authentic telling of an important north Queensland story.

Can you help? If you’d like to contribute to the tropical cyclones exhibition contact Robert de Jong on (61 7) 4726 0652 or by email: robert.dejong@qm.qld.gov.au.

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology has details of Queensland cyclones back to the late 1800s at http://www.bom.gov.au/cyclone/history/eastern.shtml

And general info about cyclones in Queensland at http://www.bom.gov.au/cyclone/about/eastern.shtml

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There are some amazing cyclone stories in our radio documentary series Remembering Larry. Cyclone Larry hit FNQ in March 2006 – one year later, people took time to reflect on the region’s first severe cyclone in 20 years, and the lessons we learned.

You can listen to the series by clicking on the red arrow for each episode.

REMEMBERING LARRY EPISODE 1: TROUBLE BREWING OUT IN THE CORAL SEA

REMEMBERING LARRY EPISODE 2: WE’VE HAD A BIT OF A BLOW

REMEMBERING LARRY EPISODE 3: WHERE THE HELL DO YOU START

REMEMBERING LARRY EPISODE 4: AND IT WON’T BE LIKE THIS TOMORROW

REMBERING LARRY EPISODE 5: “REMEMBERING LARRY”

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Posted by on April 11, 2013 in Cairns Queensland, Cape York Peninsula, Coral Sea, cyclones, EFFINCUE, environment, far north Queensland, tropical weather & climate

 

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MEET THE MAHOGANY GLIDER – ONE OF OUR RAREST CREATURES

GLIDERS 3

Meet the mahogany glider – one of our planet’s rarest creatures. They only occur in a small area of far north Queensland, but they’re very hard to find in the wild. The glider is a nocturnal tree-dwelling marsupial, closely related to the sugar glider. the squirrel glider and the yellow-bellied glider. The mahogany was first described in the 1880s but wasn’t seen again for almost 100 years. When they were found again in 1989, scientists realised they weren’t extinct – but they are a critically endangered species.

Mahogany Gliders are restricted to the coastal southern wet tropics region of far north Queensland, in an area of coastal lowland forest between  Ingham and Tully, mostly in the coastal foothills of the Paluma, Seaview and Cardwell Ranges.There’s plenty of tucker here, year round, pollen, sap and nectar being mahogany glider favourites. But their habitat is getting smaller, and it’s been hit by two major cyclones in six years. No-one’s sure how many mahogany gliders are left in the wild, but the number is probably below what scientists estimate is needed to ensure the survival of the species.

There are tremendous efforts underway in the area to protect and rehabilitate the gliders, including artist Daryl Dickson’s tireless efforts. http://www.wildcardart.com.au/

and http://www.wildlife.org.au/

And there’s a mahogany glider breeding program underway at zoos and wildlife centres around Queensland to ensure there are survivors who can be released into the wild to boost numbers in the future. The Wildlife Habitat at Port Douglas, north of Cairns, has a lead role in this program, and while the gliders aren’t on public display, there’s plenty of other local wildlife to see.

AUDIO Click on the red arrow to take a tour of the Wildlife Habitat with our wildlife correspondent Martin Cohen & Habitat assistant manager Clare Anderson. 

Clare Anderson is the assistant manager of The Wildlife Habitat at Port Douglas http://wildlifehabitat.com.au/

More stories from The Wildlife Habitat over the next few weeks.

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Posted by on March 7, 2013 in Cairns Queensland, EFFINCUE, environment, far north Queensland, PODCASTS, tropical weather & climate, wildlife and animals, Wildlife Martin Cohen

 

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CYCLONE YASI – ONE YEAR ON

INTERESTING WAY OF SEEING IT. SIGN AT TULLY FEB 2011

WE FIND OURSELVES ON THE FIRST ANNIVERSARY OF CYCLONE YASI. IT WAS JUST BARELY A CATEGORY 5 SYSTEM WHEN IT MADE LANDFALL – CENTRAL PRESSURE AROUND 930hpa, WIND GUSTS TO ABOUT 300kmh.

The ABC had decided it would not be safe to broadcast from our Sheridan St building. So we set up a makeshift studio at the new Cairns Regional Council disaster management centre and that’s where we were when it started to blow on the night of February 2nd 2011.

Now this was the first time the facility had been used for real but it’s built to stand up to a Category 5, so we’re safe, right? We’re probably in the safest place in FNQ tonight.

We’d known Yasi was coming for almost a week. We’d all been working extra time to keep our audience informed, and to make sure our radio service keeps going through the cyclone. And we’d been reading those increasingly alarming forecasts. By the time we got on the air that evening, our adrenaline levels were off the dial.

But there’s no panic. My colleagues are graceful under pressure, they sound calm on the radio. I’m so proud of them but there’s no time for a group hug just yet. Work to do, and some very confronting information to deliver.

And then it starts to blow. The forecasts have become reality. Reports come in from the Cassowary Coast and it quickly becomes clear all hell is breaking loose there. We have to deliver awful news, dire warnings, and encourage calm. To do that, we’ve got to stay calm ourselves. To their great credit, that’s exactly what they do. Phil, Kier, Nikolai, Jas, Brad & Tash. Champions!

Suddenly, a chilling, unearthly sound is heard in the room. A sound that has no place in the sweet sonic realm of radio. I swear my heart stopped beating, and I may not have been alone. Click the audio player to hear it for yourself. See if you can figure out what it is.

There were exclamations, faces turned an interesting shade of pale. There were elevated pulse rates. The more Zen among us may have imagined it was the sound of chanting monks, concealed somewhere in the facility.

After some deep breaths and changes of underwear, we do some investigative journalism and find the sound is coming from a pipe that runs up into the ceiling. Turns out it’s a gizmo that equalises air pressure and the eerie moan is just the wind funnelling into a skinny pipe. Relief all round and a chance to laugh on a night that’s getting darker by the minute. Back to work.

All around FNQ today people are remembering Yasi. When I’m an old codger in the Done Talkin’ Home For Retired Broadcasters, here’s what I’ll remember.

Fear. No shame in admitting it. I was scared. I’ve been around a lot of cyclones over the past 20 years. I even ran in to one at sea. But there was something about Yasi that gave me chills.

I am immensely proud of my ABC Far North colleagues, who worked around the clock for months to help our communities. It was an inspirational effort under tremendous pressure. I will long sing your praises.

It was in the days after Yasi that C 1 Cassowary joined the ABC team and became our mascot, and our roving reporter. I found him hanging around the sugar museum at Mourilyan and he now goes everywhere with us. I hope his free range feathered friends are doing well now.

I remember doing a breakfast broadcast from the front seat of the 4WD on top of the hill at South Mission Beach during a storm that had knocked the power out. We ran the gear out of the cigarette lighter and managed to get to air on time. Awesome work Phil Staley.

I remember meeting the Bilic family at El Arish. Yasi had walloped their home but they were about to celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary and it was an honour to witness their quiet determination to get on with life. Click the audio player to meet the Bilics.

And I’ll never forget those long weeks on the road in the cyclone zone reporting on the recovery. Always wet from rain or sweat, recording gear wrapped in tea towels, running on adrenaline. And every time I started to run out of steam, I’d meet people who gave me reason to keep going. The inspirational folk who got up the minute it stopped blowing and made the hard yards working for family and community. The volunteers who came to help, many of them still there now, a year on. The people who responded from government agencies and NGOs. My ABC colleagues and I were given encouragement and kindness, information and ideas, by so many good folk who had been hit hard by Yasi. We were inspired by you, and deeply touched, many times a day. We could not have done our job without you.

So they’re some of the things on my mind today. And when the time comes tonight, exactly a year after the big blow, I’ll be thinking of you. Wherever you are on your journey forward from that bloody cyclone, I’ll be thinking of you.

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Posted by on February 2, 2012 in Coral Sea, cyclones, EFFINCUE, environment, far north Queensland, tropical weather & climate

 

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CYCLONE SEASON – INSIDE ABC FAR NORTH CYCLONE WATCH

TC LARRY SATELLITE IMAGE (courtesy Bureau of Meteorology)

IT’S BEEN AN UNEVENTFUL START TO THE CYCLONE SEASON HERE IN FAR NORTH QUEENSLAND. TC FINA WANDERED THE CORAL SEA BEFORE XMAS, AND GRANT MADE IT TO CAPE YORK AS A TROPICAL LOW AROUND THE SAME TIME. FOR MOST OF US, GLORIOUS WEATHER. VERY LITTLE RAIN.

So the arrival of TC Heidi in W.A yesterday was a timely reminder that it is still cyclone season, and we should be prepared for whatever may come between now and May.

My radio station, ABC Far North, maintains a look-out for cyclones through the season (November to May). When it looks like something’s brewing, we’re ready to bring you the warnings, position reports and vital information 24 hours a day. That state of readiness doesn’t just happen out of the blue. Planning for cyclone season begins back in the middle of the dry time, and we review our plans daily once the season gets going.

I’ve specialised in weather-watching for about eight years now. I’m no meteorologist, but I’ve had a long interest in the weather, encouraged by my high school science teacher, who was also a TV weather forecaster. I studied aviation meteorology for my pilot license a few years back, and I’ve done a lot of research on cyclones in recent times. All that adds up to knowing what to look for, and what questions to ask our weather forecasters when cyclones are heading our way.

So here’s my typical day during cyclone season. My primary resource is the Australian Bureau of Meteorology. www.bom.gov.au

Get to know this web-site. It’s an amazing resource. You need to check both the Queensland AND Northern Territory pages, as NT cyclones can head into the Gulf of Carpentaria and make for FNQ. I check the cyclone three-day outlooks, current observations, forecasts, satellite images, and most important of all, the mean sea level pressure weather charts.

WEATHER CHART AT THE START OF 2011 BIG WET (Courtesy Bureau of Meteorology)

That chart was from the start of last year’s horror wet season. Three cyclones all at once and TC Yasi waiting in the wings. Let’s hope we don’t see that again for a long time. But you can see the dotted blue line linking Bianca and Anthony. That’s the monsoon trough, where most cyclones form. When the monsoon is active close to Australia, that’s a danger period. http://www.abc.net.au/storm/monsoon/what.htm

I also check forecasting agencies around the Pacific & the Coral Sea. Vanuatu, Fiji, Solomon Islands, New Zealand. And I stay in touch with US Navy forecasting, and the many agencies that forecast tropical weather. They all use powerful computers and forecast models, and they often come up with differing predictions. Ultimately, the ABC provides you with the Australian B.O.M forecasts, but all that other information helps me understand their thinking and ask the right questions.

And then there’s the amazing network of people who listen to us and take the trouble to call or e-mail with observations, rainfall figures, and their own predictions. I get observations from pilots flying FNQ skies, from listeners who’ve seen the birds leaving the area, or maybe it’s the green ants swarming the way they did before cyclone Yasi. It all helps shape a picture of what’s going on and what may be coming.

I filter all of this through our local B.O.M forecasters in Cairns, and we get that information to you on the radio and on our website www.abc.net.au/farnorth .

That’s how it goes several times a day, seven days a week, right through the cyclone season. My colleagues at other ABC Radio stations in the tropics are at it as well, all under the guidance of managers with specific responsibility for the ABC response to emergencies. http://www.abc.net.au/news/emergency/

At the first sign of a developing low pressure system in or near our region, you’ll hear about it on ABC Far North. Our coverage escalates in proportion to the threat, and continues long after the event, when FNQ communities rely on us for information about emergency response, repairs and recovery.

TC LARRY TRACK MAP (Courtesy Bureau of Meteorology)

We often broadcast from areas affected by cyclones and floods, sometimes under circumstances that are personally and technically challenging. We spend a lot of time prior to cyclone season making sure we’re prepared. The emergency kit is packed, batteries are charged, leads, cables & aerials checked and double-checked. Put a power regulator in the kit. Generator power is often unregulated, or “dirty”. It can ruin rechargeable batteries in phones, computers and other gear. Regulators (and some surge protectors) will deal with that. A valuable lesson from last year’s horror summer.

And each of us has a personal cyclone kit ready to go. Change of clothes, good footwear, food, medicine, first aid kit, battery powered radio, toilet paper, jelly beans, torch, batteries, water, a book, hand-wash, cash. For tips on preparing a cyclone kit http://www.emergency.qld.gov.au/emq/css/emergencykit.asp

And then, as the old corporal in Dad’s Army used to say – “don’t panic”. Cyclones are scary, some more than others. But the better prepared you are, the less risk of panic. And that preparation has to include decisions about whether it’ll be safe to be somewhere during a cyclone. Re-location or evacuation before the event might be the best decision.

Wherever you ride out the cyclone, have your battery powered radio with you. And heaps of fresh batteries. Get to know the various ABC Far North frequencies in your area — you may be able to hear more than one and that will be useful if a cyclone knocks one of our transmission towers down. http://www.abc.net.au/reception/freq/

And we’ll be providing info on social media as well. We use Twitter and other platforms. For info go to http://blogs.abc.net.au/queensland/2012/01/far-north-queensland-cyclone-season-twitter-can-help.html

And anytime you want to yarn about the weather, comment here or e-mail me at dinnen.richard@abc.net.au

EVEN OUR BANANAS GOT A HIDING DURING TC LARRY




 
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Posted by on January 13, 2012 in Cairns Queensland, Cape York Peninsula, Coral Sea, cyclones, EFFINCUE, environment, tropical weather & climate

 

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TRAVELLING WITH CASSOWARIES – BY SATELLITE

HAVE YOU EVER SEEN A CASSOWARY IN THE WILD? ONE OF THE BEST THINGS ABOUT LIVING IN FNQ IS GETTING TO SEE CASSOWARIES ON A FAIRLY REGULAR BASIS.

The emu may be taller, but the cassowary is much better-looking. They occur only in FNQ and Papua New Guinea. These endangered flightless birds are solitary creatures, living in and journeying through our rainforests. 

Their proper scientific name is the Southern Cassowary (Casuarius casuarius johnsonii). There’s a pretty good chance you might see one in the wild when you’re bush-walking in FNQ, especially in the Daintree and Cassowary Coast regions. If you do, give them room to move. Those long pointy toe nails can kill — and cassowaries will kick when they feel threatened.

DAD TELLS THE KIDS ABOUT FOOD MISSION BEACH 2011

Cassowaries face many dangers. Urban sprawl, dogs, wild pigs, roads. And cyclones. When a tropical cyclone hits a rainforest, the canopy gets damaged, the balance of nature shifts for a time, and food becomes scarce. In recent years, people have set up feed stations deep in the rainforest, leaving fruit and vegies to keep the cassowaries going through lean times.

When Cyclone Yasi slammed into FNQ in February 2011, a group of cassowaries were in a rehab centre at Garners Beach, not far from where the cyclone made land-fall. The centre looks after sick and injured cassowaries.

Some of the cassowaries have since been released back in to the wild near Tully, Innisfail and Cape Tribulation. They went home fitted with satellite trackers, so their carers could see how they were doing. And the news sent back via GPS is good. The birds are still alive and appear to be doing very well.

Graham Lauridsen is the vet in Tully – he had the job of fitting the cassowaries with their trackers. He says the results are very encouraging.

AUDIO: GRAHAM LAURIDSEN EXPLAINS HOW CASSOWARIES ARE TRACKED BY SATELLITE

C 1 CASSOWARY DOING THE ABC NEWS

Learn more about cassowaries at http://www.derm.qld.gov.au/wildlife-ecosystems/wildlife/threatened_plants_and_animals/endangered/cassowary.html

And read about one of the organisations working to protect cassowaries http://www.savethecassowary.org.au/

Also check out C 1 Cassowary at his home page https://rdontheroad.wordpress.com/see-one-cassowary/

AT HARTLEY'S CREEK NOVEMBER 2011

 
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Posted by on November 23, 2011 in Cape York Peninsula, EFFINCUE, environment, far north Queensland, wildlife and animals

 

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