Catherine StewartRain, rain, come and stay

It’s another one of those terrific Sydney thunderstorm days, when it’s been really stinking hot all day and you’re so over it, and then suddenly woosh! in comes this amazing south-wersterly buster. It blows and blows and the rain buckets down, thunder rumbles and lightning flashes – I love it!

Well I’ve come inside now to get away from the noise of the rain and the wailing sirens up there on the main road – I hope it’s not some silly driver who’s failed to slow down for the wet conditions.
Sydney is good at doing weather. Storm fronts whoosh through, wind directions can change several times a day and the temperature can drop 20 degrees in the space of an hour. I love being outside and watching the sky, but I also like seeing the how and where it’s happening on the Bureau of Meteorology website. Their time elapse rainfall radar display is great fun and rather handy too. When the dark clouds begin to gather, you can nip inside and have a quick look online to see whether there’s heavy rain heading your way. We’re on a northfacing slope, so I can’t always tell whether the looming clouds from the south are rainy ones or not, and I’ve saved a few linefuls of clothes from a real drenching by checking out the Sydney rainfall radar and seeing an intense rain band heading towards the north-east.

Like much of Sydney’s rain, it bucketed down for about 15 minutes and then stopped. It’s times like that when I’m really glad for our rain tanks, as heavy rain like runs off rather than soaking into the soil. It’s one of the problems of Sydney’s rain. In an average year we can get between 800mm in the west and 1200mm on the coast, but when so much of it is storm event rain, it runs off and is not very effective at watering your garden. It feels like your garden should have got a good drenching, but if you dig down, you’ll find it’s often not wet beyond a millimetre or two. Our four separate tanks collect runoff from most of our house roof and carport, so I can hold that rainwater and use it later, in a way that will really benefit my garden.

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Catherine Stewart

About Catherine Stewart

Award-winning garden journalist, blogger and photographer; writer for garden magazines and co-author of 'Waterwise Gardening'; landscape designer turned landscape design judge and critic; compulsive networker and lover of generally putting fingers in lots of pies. Particularly mud pies. Creator, curator and editor of GardenDrum. Sydney, NSW.

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