Saturday, July 16, 2016

Whether the Weather

For some reason I've had that old silly tongue twister that starts "Whether the weather" in my head recently. You can hear someone who is more than a little pleased with saying it here.

I think the reason it's been bugging me is that the weather has been downright confusing over the last week or so. We started with rain here in the west - lots of rain - which, since our rainfall for June was way below average is a very good thing. Then a blast of Antarctic air hit all the southern states bringing snow in Tasmania and the Southern Alps - not that unusual for this time of year - but also bringing snow in much of Victoria and South Australia  - and that was after heavy hail pelted down, blanketing towns along the lower east coast.

None of this reached us - we're too far north  - but temperatures here dropped to extremely cold by our standards. We get the woolly hats, gloves, scarves, sweaters and coats out and layered on once the temperature drops below about 15°C and when the night time temperature dips below 5°C, well, we feel as if we're going to freeze. Part of the problem is that, while we're very good at cooling our houses in the heat of summer we're by no means as organised about heating them. Many of us have evaporative air conditioners which are only useful for cooling and this in turn means we have to rely on electric or gas heating. We are among the luckier ones firstly, because this house is extremely well insulated and secondly, because, although it is open plan, it has a very efficient gas furnace heater. These days something this powerful is usually only installed in business premises but back forty years ago it was sometimes used in domestic dwellings. The combination is so effective that even on cold nights we usually only have to have the heater on for a couple of hours and the house stays relatively warm overnight.

But back to the weather. Yesterday was fine and we warmed up somewhat - I even got the washing dry by mid afternoon, not often the case at this time of year - but the rain has set in again this afternoon.

I'm not complaining, you understand. We desperately need rain. Climate change has meant weather patterns have shifted and, in turn the rainfall we used to be able to rely on is no longer coming. With our dams at record lows, we are increasingly reliant on desalination plants to give us the water we need for drinking and there are strict water restrictions on water for gardens.

All of that means a day like this when the rain buckets down is more a cause for rejoicing than misery. We're inside where we're warm and dry and I'm more than content. The cat, on the other hand, is not so happy. The rain lashing against the window has driven him to the safety of his favourite hiding place under my bed. I'm pretty sure, though, that as soon as I tuck myself into bed this evening, he'll emerge pretending nothing has happened and curl up beside me for the night.

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