Major Storm for The Smiths

9:30pm,   Here in the Sydney area, we’ve been battered by torrential rain and wind that is described as “winds as powerful as a Category 2 cyclone” for two days now.  I stayed home today because it was just about impossible to get anywhere due to the weather.  The water in the lagoon has come even with the sea wall, and if it goes any higher it’ll be spilling across the lawn, heading for the house.  I estimate there’s another foot of height it’d have to rise before it threatened to come into the back porch.   But the authorities are concerned about what might happen in the next 90 minutes or so.  High tide is at 10:30 pm tonight, so the lagoon off our back yard won’t be able to drain into the ocean.  Manly Dam is completely full.  So if it rains hard like it is supposed to, State Emergency Services (SES) expects to call for people to evacuate!  Two policemen have already come to our door to get our personal details as part of a door-to-door advisory to all residents living next to the lagoon.  Wow, a bit of drama for us this week!  Susan and I pickled up things off the back porch floor, just in case something caused a bit of water to surge into the porch.  It’s another 4″ step up from the porch into the house, and an additional 4″ to the living room.  So I’m not expecting water to get so high it invades our living space.  We’ll know how bad it’ll be in about an hour or so from now.  Meanwhile, look at what we’ve seen so far today!

‘Cyclonic’ storm hammering NSW set to get worse before it gets better

April 21, 2015:
The deadly storm lashing much of coastal NSW is set to hit peak ferocity in the next few hours with flood warnings in place for Newcastle and Sydney.  The storm will peak at about midnight, after which the weather will begin to calm down.

Newcastle residents are on flood watch after a warning issued by the State Emergency Service (SES), while there is also an overflow threat at Manly Dam on Sydney’s northern beaches after more than a day of heavy rain.

Hundreds of homes in the city’s north could be at risk if the dam overflows during high tide at 10.27pm and emergency services have spent much of the night door-knocking homes that are considered a flood threat.

The SES has advised nearby residents to life furniture and any valuables off the ground and be prepared for possible flood damage. Residents are also urged not to try and ford flood waters either in vehicles or by foot.

 April 21, 2015: Three people have died as a massive storm moves across NSW, wreaking havoc.
Sydney is in for a rough night with the storm set to peak at about midnight.
Traffic on Sydney's roads has been slowed to a crawl by the storm. (9NEWS)

Traffic on Sydney’s roads has been slowed to a crawl by the storm. (9NEWS)

Authorities have issued warnings for the following areas on the northern beaches: Riverview Pde, Palm Ave, Lakeside Circuit and some parts of Pittwater Rd at North Manly, Aitken Ave at Queenscliff [THIS IS WHERE THE SMITH FAMILY IS LIVING RIGHT NOW!], Campbell Pde at Manly Vale, and Eurobin Ave, Iluka Ave, Bonner Ave, Cameron Ave, Golf Pde and parts of Pittwater Rd.

The storm has also hindered Sydney commuters desperately trying to get home, with closed and flooded roads slowing cars to a crawl throughout the city.  Delays of up to half an hour are in play in the CBD, while more than 100 traffic lights are out across Sydney.

The floods have already claimed three lives, while a 62-year-old woman has just been pulled from floodwaters at Beresfield near Newcastle.

A man and his dog with a beached boat in Terrigal. (Tom Caska)

A man and his dog with a beached boat in Terrigal. (Tom Caska)

 April 21, 2015: Residents in Merewether Heights have caught the moment a massive gum tree was brought down in high winds.
 A brick wall was blown over onto some empty cars in Sydney. (9NEWS)

A brick wall was blown over onto some empty cars in Sydney. (9NEWS)

Downed trees in Castle Hill. (Jerome Wicks)

Downed trees in Castle Hill. (Jerome Wicks)

Flash flooding at Parramatta. (9NEWS)

Flash flooding at Parramatta. (9NEWS)

Passengers are advised to avoid travel as there is no forecast for when services will resume, a spokesman from the Transport Management Centre said.

People have been urged to stay off the road unless absolutely necessary in all affected areas, with flash floods and high winds making travel particularly dangerous.

“Due to forecast heavy rain, residents in Newcastle and surrounding urban areas may experience flash flooding and a rapid rise and high flow velocities in local watercourses.

A tree has been uprooted on Laman Street at Cooks Hill. (Supplied: Elisa Haig)

A tree has been uprooted on Laman Street at Cooks Hill.

A tree fall in a backyard in Gorokan. (NSW SES)

Dramatic footage has also been captured of the moment a massive gum tree was brought down by high winds in Merewether Heights.

The video shows people screaming warnings as the huge tree slowly topples down.

A tree is down at Avalon.

A tree is down at Avalon.

Authorities have also warned the 200,000 homes and businesses without power might not be reconnected to the grid until tomorrow.

About 100,000 of those blackouts are in the Newcastle and Hunter regions, with a further 70,000 in the Central Coast and 30,000 in Sydney.

A car has been crushed by a falling tree at Redfern. (Supplied: Hayden Cook)

A car has been crushed by a falling tree at Redfern. (Supplied: Hayden Cook)

 NSW Premier Mike Baird earlier urged bosses to let employees leave work early, to allow them to get home while it is still daylight during a “once in a decade” weather event.

Mr Baird is asking people to be patient as emergency crews deal with life-threatening situations during the storms that are battering the state. Three people have been confirmed dead in Dungog, north-west of Newcastle.

“The weather is forecast to worsen tonight so the SES is encouraging people to head home early while it’s still daylight. Stay safe everyone,” Mr Baird tweeted.

Gum trees were pulled from the ground in Booragul. (NSW SES)

Big Birthday, Another Sleepover!

Birthday #15!  Well documented over on FaceBook, but also deserves to be noted here in our Aussie blog.  A great time for 7 teenage girls; wife and I retreated to our bedroom with the dog to avoid the chaos!  Difficult to believe my little girl has grown up so fast!  Or did time speed up for me?  Today is birthday gift night:  Le Miserables in Sydney, about a block from where I have worked for over 2 years now for my client.  It’ll feel a bit like going to work, but a whole lot more fun, I predict!

Birthday 15 7Apr2015

Alex, Joumana, Izzy, Gemma, Maya, Amy, and Madelyne get things started with the birthday sleepover event!

Sometimes there’s just no avoiding obstacles

From 6 March 2015.  As the ferry approaches Circular Quay to take me home on a Friday afternoon, I snapped this one.  But the area is fenced off so I had to put my phone on top of the fence and there was no way to get closer to exclude that darn white pole.  Still, it captures the mood of this fall afternoon in Sydney.

Click on the photo to enlarge….


Bobbin Head Classic #2!

29-Mar-2015:  I did it again!  Decided at the last minute to again ride this charity ride for 56 Kms. Now, last year I rode my alloy cross-trail cycle and took 3 hrs, 23 minutes. Last Sunday I used my carbon road bike but only improved the time by 23 minutes.  I was surprised I didn’t demolish my previous time by much more. Maybe not quite as fit?  Well after all it’s a charity ride, not a race!  After taking the next day off, it was back on the road for me this morning!  This autumn weather in late March is wonderful to cycle in!


Milestone: First Solo Flight

Ready to board a flight from Knoxville to Dallas.  Getting out of town early and leaving the hard work of clearing out the storage locker to her parents, followed by a U-Haul truck pack and long drive to Fort Worth.  The ramp personnel had difficulty with the tug and push bar, creating delays and a bit of anxiety for this passenger!  But otherwise all went smoothly.

First solo flight 28Dec2014

Happy Third Anniversary to The Smiths in Oz!

Yes folks, today it’s December 1, 2014, the first day of summer down here in Australia, and it has now been three adventurous years we’ve had since the family touched down in Sydney back on December 1, 2011.  What started out as a 2-3 year assignment has been extended to something more for us.  Back then, I was worried about whether my daughter would have difficulty integrating into the Aussie school system, or whether the locals would ignore my wife, leaving her alone and longing to return to the USA.   I never imagined that Mads would not only integrate, but thrive in the system down here.  It didn’t occur to me that Susan would make deep, lasting friendships down here that has kept her content and busy, busy, busy!  As a result, my family wants to stay on a little longer now!  Well, OK…if you insist!

Here is what the girls looked like 3 years ago today…an anniversary throwback!  Just 3 people and 11 suitcases, arriving in Oz as a family for the first time!

Arrival Day 1 Dec 2011

Since that day, the family has cruised around both Japan and New Zealand.  We’ve snorkeled and helicoptered at the Great Barrier Reef and enjoyed the wildlife at Australia Zoo up in Queensland.  Susan and I explored Tasmania at a yoga retreat–the farthest south we have ever been!  Later we went to Gaia, Olivia Newton-John’s super spa up in Ballina.  Susan and I flew up to Phuket, and explored healthy lifestyle options while getting a big dose of Thai culture.  Mads took a trip to Canberra with her class (she has now been to 4 capital cities in 4 years!)  But the best part of all this is the opportunity to live in the Northern Beaches area (Manly area).  We’ve been so blessed to have spectacular scenery right outside our back door.  It started with a landscaped back yard with loud Kookaburrras making a tremendous racket, then moved to an apartment with an amazing view, looking directly over Queenscliff Beach, and now we have a quieter and more peaceful view of Manly Lagoon out our back yard.

Yeah, it was definitely a risk to leave the USA and our lifestyle there.  But it has paid off for us in experiences we won’t ever forget!

So here’s to the next 3 years of the Smiths in Oz!

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