Today is the first day of summer. In Australia, they don't determine a season's start by the earth's position on its orbit – that is, according to equinoxes and solstices – but fix it in place on the first of the month in which that happens.
In Queensland it should be summer by now, of course. It's bloody hot and about to get hotter. An extreme heat wave is forecast for South East Queensland over the next four days, and it will be even hotter in the interior. Humidity will determine just how unendurable that heat is.
It's been hotting up in Brisbane throughout November. The max reached so far was 35.6 on the 13th. It was a relief to head south to Melbourne and the Great Ocean Road last week. When I first arrived in Melbourne on Wednesday, however, a bitter wind was blowing from the Southern Ocean: it was about 12 degrees. The previous two days had seen 34 degrees and then 15. That's Melbourne, everyone said.
People have been in summer mode in Queensland for a few weeks. 'Tis the season of constantly running engines when parked, and often unoccupied, to maintain coolness in the car no matter what. Sometimes it's difficult to work out if someone is about to execute a manoeuvre: you can never assume they're not because they're not indicating (insert smiley face here). Clothing is cast off with abandon, and not always pleasantly so, away from the beach. Fire weather warnings are on the increase. And so, too, are storm warnings. Yesterday's show (top) was fairly alarming, and the first in our new house. There was hail, not large stones but still deafening on the awning over the terrace. Rainwater cascaded down the road – it's quite a steep hill – and thunder reached level 2 on the JG scale on the clap-o-meter (1 is the most frightening, vibrating loudness; 5 is bearable). I am getting braver. Yesterday I didn't even have to go and sit in the downstairs loo (no windows nor external walls). And there was no mopping up to do as a result of leaky windows, like in olden days.
Unfortunately, heavy rain and hail are not good for Poinciana flowers. Following the purple period of Jacaranda comes the flaming red of these non-native but great shade trees. Our street is lined with them, although they do not flower concurrently.
It remains to be seen whether the high temps materialise. The last two days have not been as hot as forecast: today didn't even make 30 (29.9). Weather men and women tend to err on the side of caution these days following late or too-mild warnings of past events that caused catastrophic damage and/or loss of life. There's a storm on the radar currently heading Brisbane's way, and the wind is strengthening. Time to batten down hatches and lay down wind chimes.
Post script: the sky after the storm…