Storm victims 'look at the sky'
Residents affected by Brisbane's thunderstorms back the Bureau of Meteorology's performance on the weekend, saying when you "see that it's black, I know there's a storm coming".PT1M51S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-29mxg 620 349 November 20, 2012
Oh, excuse me. I’m sorry. Did you get dinged on the head by a large hail stone and suffer an acquired brain injury over the weekend? Is that why you’re blaming the Bureau of Meteorology for all the water in your house and the tree across your drive way and that harsh, sibilant whisper in your noggin that it’s all somebody else’s fault?
Perhaps you think the bureau should employ the storm-warning equivalent of punkah-wallahs? You remember? The little Indian fellows who sat on the floor of the British Empire pulling on a string attached to a long thin strip of cane or canvas to fan their colonial betters with the soothing draft of a tiny breeze so that they might not be so damned inconvenienced by this blasted weather.
In the imagined world of tabloid pimps and lackwit talkback radio hosts, of course, one would have one’s own personal met bureau punkah-wallahs whom one might beat with sticks when they were insufficiently servile or, heaven forfend, when all of their ritual bowing and wallahing before the great weather god came to naught and one was hellishly inconvenienced by the bouncing of an errant hailstone off one’s high, domed forehead or – hells bells! – directly into one’s just-made gin and tonic.
Severe storm strikes southeast Queensland
Lightning strikes the high points in the Brisbane CBD. Photo: Steve Ketley.
The usual arsehats in the media won’t be alone, of course, in pursuing some poor, befuddled weather boffin whose professional carcass they plan to hang from the dead tree that looms before their grim, castellated redoubt. Beef-witted goons and beslubbering dotards from one political party or another will surely join them. But some arsehats will charge to the fore.
Let us lay justice and vengeance on these weathermen, they'll crow from column inches at the bottom of the nearest budgie cage. Someone is to blame, they'll cry, as they pass out pitch forks and burning brands, all the better to illuminate those advertisements they hope to sell off the back of a really decent, attention-seeking pogrom.
The greatest wheeze in all of this is the prospect of these mendacious hypocrites decrying the failure of a branch of science they have spent the better part of a decade or more traducing and abusing as unscientific. If you do not trust professional meteorologists on the topic of climate, why would you bother listening to them about the weather?
Because the bureau did warn everybody about the weekend’s storms. No. Granted, they did not unleash an army of highly trained monkey butlers across the city to deliver personal, gilt-edged warnings on small silver plates to those mouth breathers without the eye-hand coordination to take themselves to the toilet on their own, let alone the sense to come in from a looming storm. But BoM had been warning of bad weather on the weekend since midweek.
Whose fault is it then, if you were caught out? Yours. And mine.
I foolishly left the house for an hour on Saturday with the doors and windows open even though I knew storms were forecast. I paid for it with some time on the mop when I got home. My bad. Not the weather bureau’s.
They cannot predict unpredictable supercells. They cannot say with 100 per cent certainty that any particular suburb or street will suffer a particular and extreme event. That’s not what they do. They study patterns and probabilities and they offer advice and sometimes warnings based on those probabilities. But that’s all.
To expect anything more is to reduce ourselves to a bad joke about stupid, redneck hicks. Just ask the Italian city that prosecuted and jailed six scientists and a civil servant for not providing adequate warning of an earthquake in 2009.
The name of L’Aquila now stands as a byword for ignorance, superstition and a punishing sort of stupidity that would not be out of place in the medieval church of witch hunters and book burners.
But it looks like some whining pinheads in this city are going to give them a run for their money.