Progress Report 63: Mini-Cyclone Hits Pete’s Hobby Railway

Saturday, November 11, 2020 saw the mercury reaching 40.9° Celsius at 1314 hours. Precisely one hour later, at 1414, a mini-cyclone struck, with just 1.76mm of driving rain. It was all over within a minute or so — even the washing on my clothes line was not blown away, but was rather damp! The outside temperature had plummeted more than 13° in just five minutes.

While the heritage listed Junee Roundhouse (and railway museum) sustained major roof losses in the mini-cyclone, Pete’s Hobby Railway did not escape damage completely, but was mostly of nuisance value.

Two large water tanks, intended for fitting to the new Storage Shed and the Archives Shed, broke their moorings and headed eastwards in the 51km/h wind-blast. Or at least, that is what my wind gauge recorded at the front of the house, but apparently it was much, much stronger at the rear where it had become a mini-tornado.

The new PHR Storage Shed was hit in two places causing minor damage, before the tanks came to a stand near the eastern boundary of my property. The vibration resulting from the impact caused a number of items on the western wall to be thrown to the ground, breaking the glass in one picture frame. A small rubbish bin containing inter-alia empty soft-drink aluminium cans collected for deposit reclaiming (for the Volunteers Fund) was thrown in the air, depositing its contents far and wide.

Image 2020.1717: Despite being tied together, these two water tanks were separated and blown 50 metres across the railway before coming to a stand.
 

Tree branches snapped, including blocking my vehicular driveway near the front gate.

I’m pleased to report that no locomotives or rolling stock were damaged, even those located outside which received the full impact of the winds and resultant heavy rains. Surprisingly, Garrett, our mobile security guard, was found still standing in his latest “secret” duty station, uninjured.

There was some damage to the property on the eastern side of my block with a large branch of a tree falling on part of the main house/garage, while another falling branch caused major damage to a storage shed at the rear of their property. Behind my property, a water tank has become dislodged, while on the western side, a dead tree has been blown over — blocking their driveway to the rear of the property but thankfully ending up clear of our common boundary fence — no damage sustained.

While the local volunteer Junee SES (State Emergency Services) attended most promptly and efficiently to remove the fallen tree branch from next door’s house, Phil and Josh were on site at PHR from Wagga at the same time, retrieving the two water tanks (and even more securing them from moving!), as well as a quick tidy-up and survey for any additional damage. I certainly appreciate their efforts!!!

Image 2020.1723: Josh recovers the first of the wayward tanks and rolls it back for storage while awaiting final installation.
 

Phil and Josh had almost finished the immediate remediation works when just after 1600 hours, the second stage of the mini-cyclone arrived, with a maximum gust of 34.9km/h, resulting in heavy side-ways driving rain (5.8mm) in only a few minutes — luckily again, no further damage was sustained — however the local Junee SES working next door carrying out emergency roof repairs got a little damp!

Image 2020.1726: Garret our gnome stood stiffly at his post despite the side-ways driving second burst of rain.
 

Total rain for the day was 6.1mm — not much for the damage caused around the town.

Editor’s Note: Peter did supply this article for publication the day after the mini-cyclone hit… but other tasks and commitments prevented me from publishing this until now… my apologies for the delay

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