On tower and I think it was Tuesday when we had a schedule 5, the highest fire danger rating. We were expecting rain, lightning even. As the afternoon wore on, I watched the rain radar on my phone and strange bugs came to visit me. Check out this critter. She's lime green, including the lacework of her wings.
An interesting distraction, this bug, as I heard the spotter pilots from other districts begin swapping details on the system bearing down on them at four in the afternoon. 'Yeah, there's a cell to the north west but haven't seen any lightning yet.'
I was watching the cloud formation gather and work towards me. I rang the office and asked them to look up the 0 -2 hour strikes to the west of our area. I can't get it on my phone. By five, I was sitting at the top of a granite mountain, with a comms tower beside me and a huge motherfucking lightning cloud right overhead.
It must have looked like a funny Adams Family cartoon, if I wasn't so terrified. I rang the boss. 'I'd like to go home now please,' I said in a small voice and to his credit, he asked me to call him from the car park when I got back down the mountain.
That night, I sat up in bed and watched lightning charge around the inlet. Rain ... deep heavy drops of rain fell all night. Selkie is not a thunder-hider-under-the-bed-kinda-dog. She spent all night bolting out through the mosquito blinds to sort out this thunder and lightning thang. I didn't get much sleep (and was ambushed by mosquitos. So, thanks Selkie. 'No worries', says my dog. 'Just protecting you from that thunder monster.)
The next morning I got the message that it was schedule 0 because of rain. 'But I still want you up there,' said my boss and I knew it was because of the lightning. Below is a map of the lightning strikes that occurred that night.
Here's one for where I live:
I climbed the mountain and the forest smelled amazing. It was the smell of a hot and dank forest under stress, quieted by a summer rain. Scents of rot and death and germination. Frogs and cicadas chanted and I could feel the relief of every critter there. Lightning rain holds the super power of nitrogen. No tiger snakes either, which is a fringe benefit, for me.
Still, it was a hard climb. I'm quite fit this far into the fire season but this day was hard on me because of the heat and humidity. By the time I got to the peak, I had to wipe my face and catch my breath before radioing in.
As I watched, the neighbouring districts chimed in. It seems they got the lightning but not the rain. By 1100 hours, I heard the spotters calling in smokes: 'Attention required, lightning strike ... attention required, lightning strike', over and over again.