Possibly the coldest day since I've been in this country, South Australia shivered through its second coldest day in 28 years, with my equipment measuring a maxium of 9.8 degrees Celcius.
After yesterday's lightning near-miss, we and the owners of the adjacent property had been looking to see where the strike went to ground. The neighbours found it. My estimate of the strike being up to 400 metres away was a little short – my hand-held GPS made it 500 metres from the datum point of our house, or about 475 metres from the nearest point of the house.
The lightning struck a wire fence, blasting several of the wooden fenceposts and spreading debris over a fairly large area. We saw the smoke from the house.
I have set up a page of images of the damage.
And where to start?
On the eve of the Solstice (the Winter one, for the benefit of those up in the Northern Hemisphere who have just enjoyed their longest day), my wife had a phone call just as I was preparing the evening meal – her father had been admitted to hospital with a collapsed lung.
I had to stay home and feed dogs, horses and myself whilst my wife went off to the hospital.
Merry Solstice! There's only one thing worse on this day than visiting somebody in hospital and that's being the person visited. My father in law seemed quite cheerful, all things considered.
Flash! Bang! Not long after we arrived home, we experienced a lightning strike that was far too close for comfort. The horses spooked and the dogs were terrified. A hail storm (small stuff, luckily) along with a lot more rain; looks like our drought has finally broken.
Amidst all this drama, I discovered that my rain gauge seems to have been putting out some very dubious data. I bought this model specifically because it was advertised as having better resolution than a cheaper model – which now does not appear to be the case. Luckily I am able to adjust my historical data, which I will do once I have gone out there and done some calibration to work out exactly what the wretchèd thing is really registering. On the positive side, we have been getting a lot more rain than I though.
Still not done – more drama unfolds. My wife advised me this morning that the mains water pump was making "funny noises", as well it may, as it was merrily trying to pump air. The 1,000 litre break tank was completely empty; no signs of leakage, so it must have been pumped empty. This means one of two things: one – the pump had pumped the water somewhere (where?) or two – we had received no mains water for two or three days. I am still waiting for the tank to fill sufficiently that I can re-prime the pump and get things back to normal so that I can investigate further.
Lots of Solstice Fun – all of which I could have done without.
After that lightning near-miss, I have to confess: yes, I was working on my lightning detector again yesterday!
Lightning struck a neighbouring property mid-afternoon on the Winter Solstice (21 June – we’re in the Southern Hemisphere) 2005.
Thumbnail images all link to larger images (longest side: 640 pixels).
The fencepost in this image was one of several reduced to stumps.
Looking back over the broken fence towards the house.
The blasted fence
Whilst about to prepare my first espresso of the morning, I noticed a flash in the sky; many more followed in a silent (and distant) storm. All of a sudden we got one closer to home – and out went the lights (it's been a very dark day). My UPSs soldiered on for five minutes and then we lost everything – Internet connection, weather station – the lot.
A fairly widespread outage – Kadina was affected, which is not usually the case when we lose power – took about three hours to rectify. My wife and I got extremely bored, although I had the entertainment of getting the generator going so that we would have running water at least.
Ah, the generator; I thought it was using a lot of fuel the last time I ran it; this is no surprise as the fuel hose had softened at both ends and had been oozing (unbeknown to me). Today the hose fell off, spraying petrol everywhere; luckily the engine was not yet hot. I managed to make a repair using a length of automotive fuel hose and some proper (screw up) hose clamps. I'm going to speak to the retailer and try to get hold of the details of the importer – this is clearly defective, dangerous, and should probably be bounced to Trading Standards to get a product recall going before someone tries to get electricity and ends up with a major fire.
My wife had the delight of her lunchtime soup re-heated on the emergency gas stove; I'm just hoping that I don't have to find out how to use it to finish of a half-roasted chicken; we've got plenty of spare gas cannisters, but…
Having nearly run out of beer, I have finally got my act together and now have two batches on the go; one, my "St. Steven's Ale" (first made on the feast of Steven), a potent, dark winter warmer with Fuggles hops and the other, all light malt, Saaz hops and the zest and juice of lemon.
I am currently waiting for the epoxy to set on a new addition to the brewing rig – a 1-Wire® temperature sensor, which I am hooking into my weather system.
I have now posted a new page to the weather section of my site with pictures of my 1-Wire® beer thermometer.