Afternoon Storms

The North East Monsoon has begun.  All across the land people are turning their faces to the sky, breathing the cool, moist air.  The farmers are breathing deep sighs of relief.

We’ve had drought.  The South West Monsoon was poor.  Too often, the soils are baked hard as rock, offering little refuge for the water crashing down from above.  Flooding is reported.  In other places land-slips.

With the rain comes the wind, and the thunder and lightning.  These storms aren’t occasional romantic, bravura performances.  They build for a few hours in the heat of the middle of the day, and sweep down spitefully wherever the clouds reach saturation point.

In Colombo, they’re mostly ‘Camelot’ showers, crashing down and moving away as quickly as they came. But the paddy fields at the bottom of the hill are quenched and green.  Cranes and egrets are fishing.

Here’s the timeline of yesterday afternoon’s storm, minus sound-effects, unfortunately (The Girls were torn between following me as I shot it, and safety under the bed in the spare room, which is where Podi was later found).

Although it was short, its intensity helps explain these MMS alerts from my local news service this last week or so:

4.15 pm October 10  – A lightening strike kills a husband and wife in Medawachchiya (Anuradhapura) a short while ago.

8.20 pm October 10 – A group of local and foreign tourists are reportedly trapped on high land inside Minneriya forest due to rise of water lever after rain.  [They were rescued later that night]

October 17  – Heavy traffic reported towards Colombo and Chilaw as the Colombo Road between Kurana and 20th Mile Post is under water due to rain.

October 18 –  Several roads in Colombo are under water due to rain.  Heavy traffic reported on the High Level Road from Havelock Town to Thunmulla Junction.

October 20 – Landslide risk in several up-country areas in next 24 hours including Ganga Wata Korale, Udunuwara, Yatinuwara, Pathadumbara, Hewaheta and Akurana.

October 21  – At least 14 passengers were injured when a bus skidded off the road and plunged into a cliff in Watawala this evening.

October 22  – A rescue operation is underway to rescue a two and a half year old child buried under an earth mound which destroyed the child’s house in Attanagalla.

October 22  – An earth-slip between the 201 and 203 Mile Posts on Beragala-Wellawaya Road blocking traffic.  Motorists are advised to use alternative routes.

October 23  – Heavy mist in Nuwara Eliya;  public requested to be cautious of earth-slips in hill areas.  Thunder showers likely to continue.

October 23  – Damage has been caused to a wall near the Lion’s Paw at Sigiriya following a lightning strike.  Heavy rain reported in Dambulla.

Spare a thought for these and thousands of others whose homes have been flooded, lives imperilled.

The droplet of water cupped in the Lotus Leaf is for Cee, whose “Water” challenge this week inspired this post.

68 thoughts on “Afternoon Storms

  1. Be careful for your own selves… we are experiencing flooding in parts of South Africa as well… my cousin lives in an area that is now cut off from any other town with roads and bridges destroyed etc… strange weather for this time of the year and in the areas where it is falling… stay safe my friend…

    • It’s too easy to forget the danger out there for people with little protection except a few iron sheets for their roofs. I always try to be aware how easy it is to romanticise this paradise – forgetting the dark side … 🙂

  2. Rain is beautiful for photographers (and I love your images), but can also be deadly, as your reports indicate. A few years ago, heavy rain caused a dam to burst on Kauai, and several people lost their lives as the water rushed down to the sea. The landowner is being prosecuted for not making the dam safe.

    • Yes, dams can be deadly too! People are trying to sue the men who made the decision to release water from the dams into the Brisbane river to avert a catastrophic dam break a couple of years ago, saying that it worsened the floods there.

      I think it’s important for us (modern day humans) to remember how insignificant we are in the face of nature – our lives are so safe now, relatively, and we’ve lost so many of our survival skills.

  3. “Gutters gushing” looks like a woman’s long dark hair! And I hope we won’t see similar rains next week, when Hurricane Sandy may hit us here in the eastern US. The girls were wise to take shelter under the bed! Stay safe and dry.

  4. Mother Nature, is as they say “a cruel and fickle mistress”. I guess that’s why Mother Nature also bestowed us with such resilience. Your images do well convey the progression of the storm 🙂

      • I think so, and with technoology better forwarned sometimes should we heed it, but possibly in many environments the increasingly man made infrastructure which we consider necessary for civilised living may not be, or as easy to replace as in simpler times past, when disaster strikes, as evidenced by the havoc of Superstorm Sandy on the U.S. East Coast.

        • I suppose you’re right – though I’d hate to see a lot of us trying to survive in the wild without our modern infrastructure. I worry that necessary, physical, life skills that were passed on for millennia have been lost over just a couple of hundred years of industrialisation. But we are resourceful, I’ll say that for us … 🙂

  5. Nature is such a fickle master of our fates, on the one hand intrinsic beauty is bestowed upon us and on the other and within an instant she can turn on us. We must tread lightly were she allows us to pass and give heed when she calls for it.

  6. Mother nature continues to remind us that we are only visitors on this planet. When we think we can control the power of water and sun we are really delusional. Great photos and congrats on being freshly pressed!

  7. Good to know that it isn’t just my bias that makes me love the SW monsoons 🙂 I hate the cyclones and the flooding that is part of the NE. Breaks my heart to think of the millions that have to cope with flooded homes and lack of sanitation. And in the big cities, cholera and dengue are rampant. My thoughts are with all the victims in SL and in Chennai.

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  9. We have huge morning storms here in Bagni di Lucca. It is raining heavily just now and the river has already risen at least a metre. It has turned quite cold….a perfect day to stay at home and watch from the window.

  10. When all is said and done that took less then an hour, according to the photos, and then days of destruction and chaos afterward. I think I would be under the bed with Podi.

    Actually I do love a good storm. When I lived at the beach one friend would always come down when we knew a good storm was to come in off the lake. We would open the curtains on the big sliding doors, pop some popcorn and watch that instead of TV.

    • i’d be with you, finding a front row seat to watch it! Having said that, I’ve never experienced a full-blown cyclone or hurricane, or typhoon or those unbelievable twisters they have in the southern US – then I’d be under the stairs, I reckon!

  11. I am sending you a stay safe wish too. I lived through a hurricane in QLD once and it was terrifying even though it was not as bad as it could have been. Both the children were little and we spent the night with their beds huddled in the middle of the house.

    • I’d be the same – despite my excitement about storms I’ve no doubt as to their destructive might. Incredibly, in ten years there we were never that close to a cyclone, though Mum and Dad did have to put up the plywood not long after they moved there – the Sunshine Coast seems to have a Camelot climate and I’m counting on that in my impending old age!

      News update – the cyclone in the Bay of Bengal has missed Chennai and Jaffna. Lets hope, like Hurricane Sandy it only leaves a path of misery, rather than devastation 🙂

  12. Being battered by 60mph winds and intermittent rain at the moment. Cyclone ‘Nilam’ they are calling this one, but much less violent than predicted! Expected to move north towards the Andhra coast by evening. Hope all is well in Serendip 🙂

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