Brace for extreme weather
KEEPING IT NEIL
The clear blue sky was back over Kalgoorlie-Boulder yesterday, but is Saturday’s hail storm a sign of things to come?
I must admit to being a bit concerned at the intensity of the hailstones as they crashed into my roof, and was relieved they stopped hurtling down before any serious damage was done.
However, if the storm had continued for another 10-15 minutes, then the consequences for the city could have been much more significant.
As a reminder of what might have been, think back almost a year ago to the storm which cut power to parts of the Goldfields for several days after winds of up to 107km/h blew thousands of trees onto homes and cars, took roofs off houses, and knocked down overhead powerlines.
The powerline problem led to a building burning down on the corner of Maritana and Collins streets in Kalgoorlie-Boulder.
There was also serious damage done at Kambalda from “tennis ball-sized” hailstones, and I understand repair work is still being carried out there now.
Then think back a little further still to the heavy rain of February last year, which led to flash flooding inundating many properties.
I have lived in Kalgoorlie-Boulder for only a couple of years, so do not know if these extreme weather events are normal, and have occurred often in the past, or whether they are part of a new situation possibly influenced by global warming.
However, what the three extreme events highlighted here do suggest is that we can expect more batterings in the future.
And there is only so much the authorities can do to reduce the impact.
It is good to see the City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder addressing the stormwater issue with its $4.2 million, five-year upgrade plan.
But if the city received, say, 100mm of rain in 24 or 48 hours, such improvements might not cope with the situation.
As a report to a recent council meeting highlighted, part of the problem is the city is built on mostly clay subsoils that are relatively impermeable, thereby reducing the absorption rate of rainfall and increasing run-off.
Saturday’s hailstorm also saw some businesses lose power, highlighting the ongoing vulnerability of the city’s energy security — shown during last November’s storm, when the lack of power for several days saw a rush on fuel and food supplies.
Earlier this year the State Government announced it would put $500,000 into developing a proposal to introduce a network of rooftop solar panels and backyard storage batteries in Kalgoorlie-Boulder while it investigated a bigger solar thermal plant that could provide as much as 150MW of power and feed electricity to other States.
However, such plans will not come to fruition in the shortterm. So beware: weather which destabilises life in the Goldfields may well become a more regular fact of life in the future. Collins Dictionary says we are hearing a lot more of “single-use.”
The adjective, applied to disposable plastic products, has been named the dictionary’s 2018 word of the year.
Collins says use of the term has risen fourfold since 2013, as pollution climbs the political agenda.
“MeToo” also makes the list, which was released yesterday.
The dictionary says the campaign against sexual harassment and abuse has become part of the language in phrases such as “the MeToo era” and “MeToo moment”.
The 2017 word of the year was “fake news”.
Damage such as this was widespread across Kalgoorlie-Boulder following last year’s November 18 storm.