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Soup of This Day #194: Trying To Remember All The Wild Breezes

June 12, 2012

The Great Red Spot
The Gread Red Spot (GRS) on Jupiter is a persistent anticyclonic storm. It can contain roughly 2-3 Earth-sized planets within it’s bounds and wind speeds can top 600kmph. It’s probably not worth putting up an umbrella in that then – Image: European Space Agency (ESA), 2006. ESA is not affiliated with Longworth72. Image cropped by Longworth72.

This post is a live 1. Well, at least it’s a semi-live 1 – Some of the work, like a pizza base, has been completed previously and the live stuff is spread across that thin and crispy canvas as if it is a carefree handful of mild Hungarian salami. It’s a little bit like the London Philharmonic performing at the 2012 London Olympics Opening Ceremony where they will be there performing live but they will be violin-synching to a pre-recorded soundtrack. And oboe-synching, bassoon-synching and harpsichord-syncing – Everything-synching really.

Don’t read me wrong here – I’m not holding myself up next to the London Philharmonic. If you have tickets to go and watch those folk spin a tune then you should go do that in preference to reading this blog in the moment. They’re a decent orchestra that London crew and they probably do a mean pizza as well.

Anyway, to help you discern the pre-made base from the live toppings I’ve made the in-the-moment stuff stand out in italics. Everything else has matured like a blue cheese.

I’m writing this with a storm brewing outside. We had 1 on Sunday just past and 160,000 Perth homes lost power. The Meteorological Bureau says this 1 could be worse.

The genesis of this post lies back in early 2010, specifically around 3:30pm on Monday, March 22nd. That was about the time that a freak storm cell started to smash its way across Perth, Western Australia. The weather system was intense and strong, coupling torrential rain with high winds and a fair old dose of thunder and lightning. Oh and there was some hail. A fair bit of hail actually – Those not-so-small chunks of ice are pretty central to most folks memory of that storm.

As I write this the wind is starting to pick up outside. A little over 2 hours ago they reported winds gusting at 98kph down south at Capes Naturaliste and Leeuwin. Shortly after they clocked a gust at 80kph off the coast of Perth on Rottnest Island.

My 1st indication of the trouble brewing above was a photo that had been emailed to 1 of my staff via his partner. It showed a traffic intersection under water. I remember looking at the photo and not at 1st recognizing the roads involved – Eventually though it sunk in that the intersection was 1 in Subiaco. I’d once lived not too far from that spot and had crossed that intersection more times than I’d care to remember. It turns out that familiar landmarks look a little different under a metre or more of flowing water. Immediately after I’d identified the underwater crossing point a 2nd moment of clarity struck me – That was a scant 10km from where I was.

It occurred to me that this was not a good sign.

Spurred on by this portent, most of my team fled for home. I and a colleague though decided to wait it out – We both lived north of the city, a good hour away, and neither of us stood a chance of making it home before the heavy stuff struck. And so when 5:00pm, clock-off time, came around we ended up standing under a large portico watching the storm unfold. It was actually more of a tunnel than a portico, being open to the elements at either end and this day it held around 50 curious staff. Initially we saw some heavy rain. Then we saw some hail. Then we heard some thunder and like the educated professionals we were, a fair old number of us did the counting thing – Where you tick off the seconds between a flash of lightning and the peel of thunder and thus work out the distance away that the strikes were occurring.

The forecast tonight is for a wide-spread and intense storm with damaging winds gusting to 125kph – That’s the equivalent of a Category 2 Cyclone. The cold front bearing this malevolence is expected to hit the Perth metro area somewhere between 10:00pm and 11:00pm local.

We did this until there was a flash and an almighty crack.

Together. Or as near as together as a strike 50 or so metres away gets you.

Discretion got the better part of valour at this point. In fact Discretion beat most of us to the door and muscled an elderly lady out the road on the way through and down the stairs to the basement. He should have worn gumboots though because the lower level, where my office resided was a little flooded by this point. It hadn’t seemed that way when we’d headed up stairs to check out the storm but in our absence a colleague had noticed some water creeping under a fire door and so opened it to see what that was about.

A mini-tidal wave was what it was about.

Still around 90 minutes to the front and the rain is coming down hard now. The wind is starting to howl a bit and the window shades are rattling. The weather radar shows the front going over Mandurah, the satellite city to the south of Perth.

By the time the worst of the weather had passed it was 6:00pm. I headed out to the carpark to find my relatively new Hyundai unmarked by the hail. Another colleague had parked his Hyundai around 10 spaces away and his was pocked with icy scars. Thanking the weather gods I hopped in and started the surreal drive home.

It took around 2.5 hours, along a freeway that was partially underwater, past countless traffic lights that weren’t working, by trees that had been uprooted and on roads that had so much vegetational debris over them that they were indistinguishable from the verges that lined them.

In the days that followed the numbers came out – 150,000 homes lost power, 10’s of 1000’s of cars suffered hail damage. Nobody counted the smashed windows. Roofs were taken off houses and mud filled a library. On the scarp of Mt Eliza, overlooking the central business district (CBD) there was a landslide that buried cars and shut down Jacob’s Ladder, a popular jogging spot.

There’s a lull now. I can’t hear rain and the wind has eased. The radar still looks ominous – The front is clearly approaching Gardnen Island, home to Western Australia’s main naval base and a ridiculous number of tiger snakes. I hope the navy guys have battened down the hatches. Stuff the snakes.

The storm of March 2010 was Perth’s perfect storm. It was brutal but compact. It had hail, torrential rain, driving winds and ferocious lightning strikes – A whole bunch of problems that combined to make it damaging.

The Boston Red Sox are facing their own perfect storm right now.

It doesn’t involve hail, rain, thunder or lightning. In fact the weather can’t really be held to blame for any of it. What it does involve is injuries, attitudinal issues, poor judgement and more injuries – All of it across the park.

The best place to start is to look at how the Sox went in to the 2012 season. With a pitching problem. It was the same pitching problem they had down the stretch in 2011 and nobody in Sox management did much to address it beyond hope for starters to up and show themselves from the pen. That’s like standing in the rain and hoping that if you dodge the drops well you’ll stay dry.

Or to look at it another way – That strategy was about as effective as an umbrella would have been while standing atop a cellphone tower in Perth at say, 4:30pm, March 22nd, 2010. Not very and just a bit painful. Take the ERAs of the 6 Sox starters to have taken a turn this term – John Lester (4.57), Josh Beckett (4.14), Clay Buchholz (5.77), Felix Doubront (4.34), Daniel Bard (5.24) and Daisuke Matsuzaka (7.20). Throw in the pen and the collective ERA is 4.45, good for a ranking of 13 out of 14 in the American League (AL).

That’s your hail, right there.

It’s calm here now. Before the storm.

Your lightning is in the form of injuries. Outfield positions have been particular vulnerable – Jacoby Ellsbury, Carl Crawford and Cody Ross to name 3. Others, like Darnell McDonald and Ryan Sweeney have had time out too – This has been countered by some unearthed nuggets – Daniel Nava has been a revelation, Will Middlebrooks has swung with intent, Jarrod Saltalamacchia has become ‘The Catcher’, Big Papi has slugged like it’s 2004 and even Adrian Gonzalez has turned out ok way behind his usual 1st base haunt in right field. Still the offensive power has been sapped – Guys like Marlon Byrd and Nick Punto are ok but they aren’t putting out consistent at bats.

The final elements of this storm have been the attiudes – Too much arguing the toss with umpires. Too many ejections. Too many ‘no comments’. There’s been a lot of thunder. Growling, grumbling thunder.

A perfect storm.

Here though is the sunshine peeking out from behind the clouds. That great perfect storm of 2010 took no lives. Lots of damage to property but no lives.

The great perfect Sox storm of 2012 won’t take lives either – That’s a given, because for all my metaphors and allusions what is happening to them is nowhere near as scary as the sound of howling wind outside my window right now and the prospect of what The Noah calls ‘the thunder-lights’.

But here’s the kicker, the bit that makes me smile and that right now is distracting me from the banshee headed for my home – Even with all of those elements against them, the Boston Red Sox are at 29 and 32, just 6.5 out of 1st in the AL East. And soon the storm will have passed and the Sox will be back on track. That’s my forecast folks – You have been warned!

And now I can hear thunder – Time for me to publish this and hunker down under some warm blankets. Stay safe people.

Trying To Remember All The Wild Breezes

  1. I predicted before the season started Bobby V would be fired on Father’s Day. A few more losses here and there and I might have made it. Looks like he will carry on into July after all. Heard just this morning on ESPN…”who is in more trouble, the Red Sox or the Phillies?” I had to laugh at this point in both seasons…let’s just say both…a lot of it…and leave it at that.

    • The Sox need to rebuild. Wholesale. I’m increasingly seeing Bobby V as a place-holder while the guard is changed over. The Phillies – I just don’t get – They needed some tweaks over the off-season and they just went off on a tangent.

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