Friday, 25 April 2014

Mitchell Secret Agents and the Mission Impossible (or not)

As secret agents Mark, Lisa, Ally and Meghan set down in Cairns, Australia, as part of their World Tour Mission, an un-encrypted message was received from a known source.

“Dear Mark and Lisa: I know I am a worrier but there was an earthquake in South America and the scientists expect a tsunami to hit the east coast of Australia. Please listen to weather reports before going to the beach or staying in an igloo on the beach. It is time you came home! Love Mom”

Immediately, suspicious of the intentions, we investigated further. It was believed that this source had made previous attempts to sabotage the Mitchell World Tour Mission.  Kidnapping of the younger agents was suspected during an earlier leg of the mission when the suspect known as ‘Mom’ and her accomplice ‘Papa’ flew to Spain and Portugal.  The agents had undergone extensive training on how to deal with these threats and so far had evaded all attempts of sabotage.  This recent message was particularly troubling as it included our exact location, natural disaster warnings, and orders to abort the mission and return home immediately.  This was definitely the work of an insider who had access to our mission data.  Determining whether this message would necessitate an abort mission, or was just another attempt at sabotage, was first on the priority list.

We made our way to the igloos on Trinity Beach, logged in and accessed our files.  We had been without access for over a week and in this line of work, anything can change in a week.  No tsunami was spotted by the tsunami beacons, but there was a threat of Cyclone Ita heading in our direction.  This would require more investigation and consultation with local intelligence agents. (Desiree , Mike and their agent in training Hanley)  If a cyclone were to hit the north coast of Queensland, this could definitely impact the mission.  At the present time, the storm was a category 2 in the Coral Sea near the Solomon Islands, and was recorded as no immediate threat to us.

Our Igloo
A view inside, the junior agents slept in the loft.
We are just north of Cairns, everything is looking good!
or is it?
The mission continued as planned and the special agents completed a tour of the Tropical Rainforest Village, Kuranda, a hike to Barron Falls, exploration of the enchanted waters of the Blue Lagoon, ocean swimming, tropical fruit tasting and plenty of relaxation.  Extensive training had prepared the secret agents to be able to act and look like regular civilians, or perhaps even tourists on vacation. Nobody would guess their real identities, and the extent of their mission, particularly during morning drills when they were required to get wet and sandy. 

The Blue Lagoon, such an amazing spot!
As the agents continued to blend in with society enjoying BBQ’s and long walks on the beach, they maintained a close watch on Cyclone Ita and were in constant contact with mission control.  Ita had continued to intensify and was sitting as a category four off the coast of Cairns.  Upon impact it was expected to reach a category five.  Intelligence agents on the ground had recommended that precautions be taken.  Long life milk, batteries, candles, cooking fuel and water were secured and stored in the igloo should the need arise.  The special agents were aware of the nearest evacuation centre; however, ground officers Desiree and Mike had established that they would relocate the secret agents if the mission was in jeopardy of being compromised in any way.  All precautions had been taken to protect the mission and the secret agents involved.  The igloo was as strong as a bomb shelter, and the only true threat came from a possible storm surge from a direct hit. 

A breakfast BBQ on the beach.  

So yummy, delicious after our morning run.
Preparing for the storm, anything that might blow away is put in the pool
Cyclone rations
It also became evident that the suspect known as ‘Mom’ had no knowledge of Severe Cyclone Ita and all precautions were taken to maintain that position.  Intelligent Agent, Uncle Dan at home base was under strict instructions not to release any data to ‘Mom’ or to any other inquiring civilian.  Uncle Dan was to report to any queries, that the agents were in no immediate danger and all precautions were being taken to ensure their safety.  All information that may necessitate worry on the part of the suspect known as ‘Mom’ was to be illuminated.   

At twenty-two hundred hours on Friday April 11 2014, Category 4 Cyclone Ita hit land, 200 kilometers north of Cairns and began to reduce in intensity.  It was predicted to hit Trinity Beach the following evening and be nothing more than high winds and heavy rainfall.  The secret agents made it through the storm unscathed; however, the beach and retaining walls were not so lucky. Eight vertical feet of sand was removed from the north end of the beach.  The mission would continue as planned and arrangements were made for the agents to head out to the Great Barrier Reef.  Successful completion of the Australian leg of the mission was recorded.  Everything had gone as planned until known suspect ‘Mom’ got wind of the information that had been withheld.  At this point in time all communication from ‘Mom’ has ceased and the secret agents are still trying to establish contact and repair trust.  The source ‘Mom’ is of great value and an integral part of the Mitchell World Tour Mission, without her the mission would be impossible!

Ita is coming!
and YES, we even take selfies during cyclone!
The junior agents first underwater mission.
Mission accomplished, we found Nemo!
Sorry Mom/Grandma for keeping the storm from you, we just didn’t want you to have a category 5 meltdown.… and it worked.  We love you! 

WARNING - This message will self-destruct in ten seconds.

Meg figures she can classify this experience as her Geography Disaster Project for her dad.  To that end the following educational value has been added at no extra charge!

Cyclone: Much like hurricanes and typhoons in the northern hemisphere, cyclones are massive low pressure storms that develop over warm water (minimum 26 C/80F). Unlike their northern hemisphere cousins, cyclones spin in a clockwise direction due to the rotation of the earth. These storms can have wind gusts up to 300 km per hour near the eye wall and can include damaging rain, hail as well as the possibility of tornadoes and storm surges.

Cyclone Rating Scale: Cyclones are rated from category 1 being the smallest to category 5 being the largest. A category 5 cyclone is equivalent to a weak category 4 hurricane. 

Storm Surge: A inundation of water along a coastline due to the approach of a powerful hurricane/cyclone. Storm surges are particularly extreme if they correspond to a high tide at landfall.  Despite extreme winds, the deadliest part of a cyclone/hurricane is the storm surge.

Special thanks to ground agents Desiree, Mike and Hanley for a wonderful stay in Trinity Beach and for our lovely 'cyclone aftermath' dinner together.  

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