Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Last Saturday, Melbourne recorded its hottest day on record (46.2C). From a cool start, the temperature quickly ramped up as the 'February dragon' started breathing. The wind reached a crescendo. The sky had turned a strange shade of grey, and there was a great curtain of cloud in the north. Dust? Smoke? Either way, it was not looking good.

At about three I opened the front door to be greeted with dust and smoke... and a blast from the south as the cool change struck. Within half an hour, the temperature had plummeted to below 30C and it was possible to venture outside without feeling you were stepping into an oven.

Sunday morning dawned overcast and with a cool wind. And peals of thunder. I had put my name down for a bushwalk with my local club but, despite the coolness, the thought of strong winds and lightning strikes in tinder dry forest had me wondering, yet again, just what it was I had been thinking. The walk leader spared me the cost of a phone call when he rang to say the walk was cancelled, as it was confirmed to be in a fire zone.

The walk had been planned for Lake Mountain, a few kilometres outside Marysville. Need I say more?

Even as the town died in a conflagration, the weather in Melbourne continued cool and mild, with occasional showers.


Thursday, February 05, 2009


Melbourne's weather report:

Mon Jan 2625.5
Tue Jan 2736.4
Wed Jan 2843.4
Thu Jan 2944.3
Fri Jan 3045.1
Sat Jan 3130.1
Sun Feb 133.8
The angry rainbow serpent breathed
and rendered bare a grove of trees

Heat Stress on Plane Trees

What's this picture? Signs of an early autumn? Nope, this is what four days of temperatures in the low to mid-forties (not to mention a generous monthly rainfall of 0.3mm) does to plane trees. Being mature trees, they will probably recover. Hopefully, the same can be said for Melbourne's groaning transport system

The worry is that this sort of weather is likely to become a summer feature, and is likely to recur some time in the next decade. Indeed, it's due for an encore this Saturday. I won't be clapping!
The hot wyrm sighed
and thousands of its brethren died
In recent months, I have started up a worm farm. It' taken a little while to get going, since the starter packs don't really have enough worms to make a huge dent in the food scraps. However, worms do what worms do and, until a week ago, I was developing a thriving colony.

Then the heat wave proceeded to make worm stew out of them.

This is partly my fault, I didn't take the recommended steps in time and, when I did, I didn't do them properly.

Thus, if you think to pour cool water over the steaming vat, *do* remember to open the drain plug! In hot weather, worms head for the cool depths... the problem in this case being that the 'depths' in this case were still exposed to the hot air. They would have been suffering even before I tried to drown them!

A more effective measure I found was to drape wet newspaper around the sides. Unfortunately, it was a case of too little, too late. Plus, the newspaper needed re-wetting frequently (every hour or so)

The end result is that I had an Annelid dieback of Permian proportions (~90%) There do seem to be a few scattered remnants, but we will see how they go, and whether I'll have to get a booster pack to recover the numbers. I might until the hot weather is over before I do that! Meantime, it's back to the old compost bin.