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Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Robertson - an island in a sea of broken trees

Last night saw record winds blow down trees all around the place.
The Illawarra Highway, linking Robertson to Moss Vale and Bowral and the rest of the world (to the west), was closed.
The Illawarra Highway, to the east, going down Macquarie Pass, towards the coast, and Wollongong, still remains closed.
The Jamberoo Mountain Road, linking Robertson with Jamberoo and Kiama, still remains closed as I write.
We are in effect an island, cut off from the rest of the world.

The wind has been extraordinarily strong.
The local "Firies" (Rural Fire Service) weather station reports the highest gust - 90.1 km/h at 20:51 on 05.07.2011.

The Blue Mountains, (further west and higher) have dominated the News reports with their number of trees down, and power outages. But this storm has been pretty severe locally, too.

Several local businesses are closed, for reasons to do with power brown-outs affecting their security systems, apparently. The Robertson Inn (the "Robbo Pub" had a problem with their historic roof trying to lift off. A team of builders from Wollongong, who happened to be staying there last night got the job of providing a temporary "fix". But they wisely decided not to try anything heroic in the middle of the night. But they were up on the roof this morning.

The wind affected me last night, in a small way, by having brought down a large Pittosporum tree across the road, just outside my place. I was due to drive to the Pub for a regular Trivia night, but the road was completely blocked. This is what it looked like this morning.

Tree across my road (from the downhill side)

This is the view from the other side.
This is the road to the local Cemetery, 
and there are a few properties along that road too.
So it is not just me who was cut off.
The trunk of the tree was about 600mm in diameter
Fortunately the Council emergency services road clearing team turned up this morning with 6 blokes, chain saws, a large backhoe and a truck to clear the road. For once, let me say I am happy to pay my rates.

The Council guys were surprised that a Pittosporum would grow so large. But I know that there are far larger ones in the local Robertson Rain Forest.

The neighbouring village of Burrawang (home of the largest Eucalypt trees in the district) was without power from 4:00pm, The Burrawang Pub was closed, so the Robbo Pub had a few stragglers visit for tea and they stayed to join our Trivia Night event.

As far as I know, the only damage to trees on my own block is minimal. But I will wait till the wind dies down completely before doing a full patrol.

The Wattle trees which Zoe and I planted, below my house in May 2004 have had their heads snapped off (again). But I regard that as mere pruning. It saves the power company guys from having to cut the heads off these trees, to ensure the Power Lines are not likely to be touched anyway.

This is a good reminder that the famous "August Winds" do not just blow in August. In 2006 I wrote about them on 11 July.

Last night's winds equate to Force 10 on the Beaufort Scale: Technically, a "Storm" which is two steps up from a "Gale" (techo speak is different from our general usage of those words.

10  Storm  
48-55 knots Seldom experienced inland; trees uprooted; considerable structural damage.

Our local reports fit their description perfectly.


mick said...

Wow! Those are very severe winds! Glad you and your place are safe although cut-off from the closest towns. Did you get much rain - or just heavy winds? We had big winds last week but the last few days have been lovely and calm. This is certainly a big country!

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Mick
No rain, just wind.
Hopefully it will blow itself out before it reaches you (it has come up from the south).
Counting ourselves lucky.
Hundreds of trees down along the roads in the district.

Snail said...

Wow! It was certainly blowy out your way. It's good that the council were out quick smart to clear the roads. And excellent news that the pub still has its roof!

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Snail
Yes, roof still on, and front door still open.
Strangely, the Supermarklet across the street has been closed for 2 days now. Possibly power problems - not sure.
But the Pub is still functioning (I only go there for Trivia Night on Tuesdays.)
But at least it is not reduced to being "the pub with no beer". That would be a heart break for the "regulars".

Denis Wilson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Denis Wilson said...

I should have acknowledged that our "storm" was not a Cyclone - just to keep it in context.

Mac_fromAustralia said...

Oh Denis! Glad you're okay!