Friday, February 13

Lightning over Rarotonga

The six o’clock TVNZ news is rebroadcast in Rarotonga at 8.30pm. Well to be more accurate it’s some time between twenty past eight and five to nine depending on what programme precedes it.
The weather segment of the news includes forecast symbols for Australia and the Pacific islands, including the Cook Islands.
Since early December our symbol has shown a dark cloud with flashes of lightning, rain and a temperature between 29C and 31C. The temperature’s been about right but we haven’t had much in the way of thunderstorms - until this week.
On Tuesday night we had two or three great lightning displays.
The first one started at about 6.30pm, still daylight but you could see the flashes illuminating the tops of the clouds. That was to the NNW. Very little thunder so it must have been a long way away.
It kept going though, and moved slowly to the west and then another display started up in the northwest. There was still no thunder and no rain.
The video was taken at around 9pm. By that time the storms had moved around to the west and there was an average of about 15 seconds between flashes but I’ve edited out the waiting time to make it look more exciting.
The display lasted for several more hours and another storm started up in the north at about 9.30pm. Actually heard some thunder from that one although it was still far out to sea.
So the TV weather forecast got it right at last.
Actually it’s just as well we haven’t had too many storms because whenever they come close, large numbers of the islands’ computers suffer from fried motherboards and hard drives. This is an additional expense that web surfers just don’t need given the already exorbitant cost of keeping up with the world online.
Telecom Cook Islands, the country’s monopoly ISP, is currently pushing a deal whereby you get ‘up to’ 1Mbps download speed and 20Gb data allowance (with a 10c per Mb excess fee) for the princely sum of $1650 per month. And I didn’t forget the decimal point. That really is one-thousand-six-hundred-and-fifty dollars. A month. Something similar from Telecom NZ (which is a major shareholder in TCI) will cost you $59.95 per month with a speed of up to 4Mbps and if you go over the 20Gb the speed drops but there’s no extra charge. That’s over 27 times more expensive.
It’s not cheap staying in touch in the islands!