Weather 2 – Riding to Claremont

The meeting started at 4.00pm as the noise from the wind started to rise.  You could see the windows bulge as the wind surged.  Then came the hail.  I decided that the reflective coating on the windows would at least stop them shattering.  And finally the rain; would the roof cope with the volume?  The meeting was finished at 5.30pm as the disaster management team moved in to set up.  I changed into my cycling gear (are you crazy, catch the train!) and headed for the bike in the basement.  Half the basement is ankle deep in water, but the bike is high and dry.  I ride out through the water.  The security doors have not coped well with the storm; the out door  is jammed halfway down, but the in door is jammed open.  I ride up the ramp to a flooded street.  Miraculously the weather has cleared, so I set off down the flooded street. 

The traffic is at a standstill in Lord Street

Through the McGiver Station underpass, which surprisingly is not flooded.  Lots of people on the station, waiting.

The traffic is at a standstill in Barrack Street and not helped by those drivers who move into intersections even when they can see their exit is blocked.

Perth Station is very crowded with waiting passengers. Roe Street  traffic is at a standstill and by the Milligan Street overpass, heavily flooded.  Over the bridge and aroung the being constructed Perth Arena.  Traffic is at a standstill in Wellington Street, but the weather is improving. 

As I ride towards City West the PSP is strewn with limestone washed across the track.  This is a portent of things to come.  The  Sutherland Street underpass is flooded with car drivers standing by their cars looking? Alongside City West station the rain water has gouged huge channels alongside the PSP and dumped mounds of sand across the PSP.  Get off the bike and walk.  The car park behind the flats has transformed into a small lake featuring a body of a ute, wheel deep and acting as an island.  (It was still there on Wednesday morning)  Further along the PSP the newly installed gardens are trying to move to Harbour Town and the entrance to the new ‘Blue Note” building had been undermined by water and is nearing collapse.

Traffic on Loftus Street is at a standstill.  The Loftus Street subway drainage has always been poor, so it is no surprise to find it flooded again but this time the water is greater than crank depth and full of debris.  Struggle through with wet feet as too much debris to coast with my feet on the cross bar.  On the other side the water is more shallow but two huge mounds of sand require the bike to be carried across.  The West Leederville subway appears knee deep but fortunately I don’t have to go that way.  Just before the railway underground entrance at Subiaco, I notice the embankment on the other side has collapsed with sand spreading across the rail and the Armco on Railway Parade hanging in the air.  A Perth bound train goes past very slowly.

Through Subiaco and some dickhead in a large black four wheel drive Toyota demonstrates his cross country skill by driving at high speed through the flooded road way soaking all around him, me included.  A quick glance at the Hay Street underpass rules that out so across Hay Street and into Stubbs Terrace.  The PSP through Daglish that winds so beautifully through the trees has disappeared under a carpet of shredded and very slippery leaves.  Even had I decided to risk the leaves, I could not have ridden far along the path as it is blocked in at least three places by falling tree limbs.   Over Nash Street and I notice piles of white along the edges of the PSP – golf ball sized hailstones with adjacent broken windows.

The storm has stripped the foliage from the trees turning Stubbs Terrace totally green.  The normally hidden Grace Vaughan House is now there for all to see.  Along the leave and  limestone strewn PSP over the Karrakatta  ‘blunderpass’  appears to have coped well with the down pour with no obvious flooding, but there is a large gouge in the opposite embankment with substantial sand on the roadway. 

The shade cloth over my driveway sags with a large bulge in the middle.  Water drips through.  I poke it and it doesn’t move – its solid ice.  Trees in the garden are unseasonally decidious, but otherwise the house appear undamaged but without power.

I think my journey home took about 10 minutes longer than usual as I waded, walked and just stopped to look around on my way home.  A colleague who left the meeting at the same time in his car took 90 minutes just to cross the Causeway.

About Peter Bartlett