Now, I'm one of the least religious people ever. But in this case its very fitting!
Remember how it hasn't rained in the Pilbara? Well, it did.
We've still not had much rain, but its been falling further down the catchments in Newman/Jigalong.
So I innocently went for a drive on friday, joking about how there had better not be any water in some of the more awkward river crossings further down (think steep bumpy washed out drop down into a soft river base with standing water and keeping enough momentum to get you across the next 50m of river gravel...)
How shocked was I to encounter this at the first hurdle?!
Thats the "road" across the Oakover. Its normally a 300, wide gravel and rock crossing, with a couple of standing water pools. Its not normally a 300m wide fast flowing body of water.
My new fieldy was in front, and I saw him starting to out the car into low range to attempt a crossing. Not Good! So I ran up and stopped him, we radioed back to base to see if there had been any reports of flooding the previous day. Nope. It was all new. Flash flood!
I stood around taking pretty pictures, and as I spun around taking this panorama:
I saw the river rising BEHIND where we had stopped the cars.
Very quick 3 point turn on the little island we were up on and we got the hell out of there. It would have been an interesting incident report! How did you lose these two utes? Well...
Thats the video of the water rising over the track. We were parked up on the dry bit on the other side...
I've seen this river in flood before, but I've never seen it actually in the act of flooding before. It was impressive!
Back on site, we warned the road trains, who carry our ore to port, that they should put word out to be cautious of the oakover crossing 50km up the sealed road, because the flood wave is on its way.
We told people at site, and they didn't understand what we were talking about, because the road trains could still get through. Yes, um, because they have a raised sealed road 50km away from where the current flooding is going on, we have a dodgy gravel track that bumps its way along the base of the river channels...
When the flood wave did hit the monitored river crossing 50km away, it rose 2m in half an hour:
Thats how we got 3 road trains washed away a few years ago. One truck crossed OK, so the guy coming in the other direction crossed, but in the 10 minutes between them the river had risen so dramatically that it washed the truck away. Another 2 went the same way because it was night time and they couldn't see the extent of the water. They ended up doing an air rescue, using a mustering helicopter from one of the stations, and a jet ski, and the driver we taken to hospital with hyperthermia.
Oh, and the flood also buried on of our contractors pumps that theyd left in the river chained to a tree. Oops.