Good Reading : July 2010
JULY 2010 ı goodreading 27 practical book below the towering sandstone cliffs to the south of the harbour entrance. The crew desperately tried to come about but the ship was driven inexorably onwards until it crashed into the rocks at about 11.15pm. Instantly the back of the vessel broke and the decks burst upwards, with water pouring in amidships as the ship heeled over. Ter rified passengers appeared on deck praying for deliverance, but were eventually swept up away onto the rocks as the ship broke up. All died except one crew member, Able Seaman James Johnson, who had somehow clung onto the rocks after being washed ashore and survived the tempest. Although no for mal weather records were kept at the time, Johnson's description of the stor m, together with those of observers onshore in the area, strongly suggests an east coast low was the cause of the tragedy. The Federation Drought, 1895–1902 From 1895 to the tur n of the new century, much of eastern Australia suffered a prolonged dry spell with areas of well-below-average rainfall extending across much of Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria. There was no substantial relief in 1901, and 1902 became even drier, with many of the river systems in the east becoming mere trickles of water. This period, coinciding as it did with Australia's Federation in 1901, became known as the Federation Drought, and it remains one of the most infamous weather events in Australia's recorded history. Rural Australia was slowy dying after nearly eight years of severe stock losses and repeated crop failures. An increasingly desperate New South Wales state gover nment declared 26 February 1902 a public holiday and a day of 'Humiliation and Prayer', and urged all citizens to attend church for prayer services. The ter rible year of 1902 continued with no relief in sight from the all- pervading drought. The Queensland gover nment's eccentric astronomer, Clement Wragge, ordered a ring of vertical cannons to be fired into the air around Charleville on 26 September 1902 in an attempt to bring rain. The attempt was a spectacular failure and Wragge later emigrated to New Zealand. At long last, some rain fell across Victoria in December, followed by good rains for New South Wales and Queensland early in 1903. The great Federation Drought finally came to an end but not before a ter rible toll had been exacted. In 1902 alone, Australia's wheat crop had been nearly entirely wiped out, 30 million sheep and 4 million cattle lay dead and many far mers had been permanently forced off their land. The Complete Book of Australian Weather by Richard Whitaker is published by Allen & Unwin, r rp $39.99. Precipitation associated with cloud types Cirrus No precipitation Cirrocumulus No precipitation Cirrostratus No precipitation Altocumulus Can produce light shower activity Altostratus Can produce rain and snow across a wide area Stratocumulus Can produce light showers or drizzle Cumulus Can produce showers or snowfalls in cold temperature Nimbostratus Is normally associated with rain or snow, often heavy Stratus Can produce light rain or drizzle Cumulonimbus Can produce heavy showers, hail and snow in cold conditions One of Clement Wragge’s rainfall cannons.