Alternative title: My first cyclone

Yes, I know. This blog post is ridiculously out of date (three months late!). But I couldn't just leave it languishing in my drafts folder forever, so it's time to finish it off and get it out there :)

Way back in February I wrote about the formation of what was to become Tropical Cyclone Carlos. On the 15th of February, we watched the weather graduate from lots of rain, to tropical low, to cyclone watch, to cyclone warning ...

My last blog post left off on the night of Tuesday 15 February. We finally received notification that the Uni campus where I work would be closed the next day, which was a relief as the weather was getting pretty wild. We brought all our outdoor furniture inside, closed the cyclone shutters on the bathroom windows (our safe room), gathered our torches, and filled lots of water bottles.

And it really was a wild night. The tropical low had not yet gone offshore so couldn't be classified as a cyclone yet, but we experienced strong winds over 100kph, and record-breaking levels of rain (over 400mm in 24 hours). We also lost power for a couple of hours. We stayed well indoors and away from windows. You could really hear the wind howling and the rain pelting down, but in the end I managed to sleep through much of it.

On Wednesday morning the wind and rain died down, and we spent most of the morning in the eye of the storm. I ventured out to take a couple of photos in our local park, where there were lots of branches down, and even a whole tree! I was soon to discover that many trees went down in Darwin over those couple of days - but this was an amazing sight for me.

After TC Carlos - Tree down in local park, Moil

The tropical low officially became Tropical Cyclone Carlos (Category 1) around noon on Wednesday when it went briefly offshore before turning back inland again. The rain really picked up again in the afternoon, and we had water lapping at our doors. Luckily for us the water drained away fairly quickly and didn't enter the house - pretty amazing considering the quantity of water that was landing on us. I took some photos and a short video of the wading pool that formed in our backyard that day (that's Tim getting the once-over halfway through the clip!).

TC Carlos visits our house 1

TC Carlos visits our house 2

The wind and rain hit us again hard later in the afternoon, and it got very rough out there. By Wednesday night we again received notification that the Uni would be closed for another day, and we battened down in anticipation of a second rough night. Sure enough there was plenty of wind and rain overnight, and we lost power again. We got power back on for half the house in a couple of hours, but it was several days before we had full power restored.

On Thursday morning Tropical Cyclone Carlos broke up into a tropical low, much to our relief. We spent most of Thursday in the eye of the low, and it was very quiet. We discovered that the major retailers had re-opened, so we  did some grocery shopping (mostly for fresh fruit and veg), and went for a short drive around the northern suburbs. We saw crews working on fallen trees, and I took the opportunity to snap a few photos and take another short video of trees down at Nightcliff foreshore.

After TC Carlos - Freshwater Road

After TC Carlos - Darwin General Cemetery 1

After TC Carlos - Darwin General Cemetery 4

After TC Carlos - Nightcliff Foreshore 1

After TC Carlos - Nightcliff Foreshore 4

The rain did get fairly heavy again on Thursday afternoon, as the outer arms of the tropical low started to hit Darwin, but the worst was definitely over. On Friday I went back to work, and shared cyclone stories with my colleagues :)

These photos at CDU oval were taken a few days later - there were scenes like this all over Darwin.

After TC Carlos - CDU Oval 3

After TC Carlos - CDU Oval 6

After TC Carlos - CDU Oval 8

If you'd like to see the rest of the pics I took of some of the damage wrought by Tropical Cyclone Carlos, I have added them to a set on Flickr here:

We had something like 700mm of rain in Darwin during the week that Tropical Cyclone Carlos was in town, including more than 400mm in a 24 hour period on Tuesday-Wednesday (to put it in perspective, in only a few days we experienced more rain than Melbourne usually does in a whole year!). It was pretty wild and woolly, but I consider myself lucky to have a relatively mild first cyclone experience.

[Please note: In the context of the many terrible natural disasters and resulting losses of life and property that have befallen people around Australia and the world in 2011, I know that my little cyclone is just a blip. But it happened to me, and it was pretty all-encompassing at the time. So I wanted to write about it before the memory fades away.]