Looking at Thunderstorm Asthma

Recently in Melbourne, Australia, on what was the then hottest day of the year in November, the stifling heat was terminated with a thunderstorm and and sudden, fast winds of up to 91 kilometres per hour. What followed was 8,500 cases of asthma and nine deaths from the ‘thunderstorm asthma’ effect. Heavy rain caused rye grass pollen to absorb moisture and burst, dispersing smaller particles that became trapped in people’s lungs.


Melbourne is known as a global hotspot for thunderstorm asthma — a condition brought on when storms play havoc with pollen which can even affect people who do not normally suffer from respiratory problems. In ‘regular’ asthma, something triggers the muscles around a person’s airways to squeeze tight, swell and create more mucus.

But occasionally there are incidents of thunderstorm asthma that are sparked by large storms, like a cool change in spring, that can cause significant breathing problems to people who do not have the condition.

What causes thunderstorm asthma?

  • Can affect those who suffer hayfever, pollen allergies
  • Rain causes pollen particles to burst, making them smaller
  • Small particles enter the lungs through the nose
  • People who do not usually suffer asthma can struggle to breathe



It caused many people, including those who had no history of asthma or respiratory issues, to experience mild to severe breathing difficulties. One man described the feeling as being like an elephant standing on his chest.

A recent report by the Inspector General of Health found that while emergency services acted admirably and probably saved more lives, little information about the emergency was disseminated to the community or the emergency services themselves.


Storm clouds over Point Cook, 21 November 2016


Parts of the suburban area of Melbourne had 38.1 (highest for the month) with a cool change and wind speeds of 91 kmh recorded. By 6pm, temperature dropped from 38 to 23 degrees by Celsius and crowds of people were in pharmacies, calling the ambulance service, flooding emergency departments in hospitals. One hospital went to Code Brown to obtain beds for sufferers.

It is thought that the cool change reached Melbourne by around 5 pm. At 5:32 pm, National Nine News delivered a broadcast to air advising that over 200 people were in hospital with asthma caused by winds and the cool change. The Ambulance service was receiving a call for help every 4.5 seconds between 6pm and 8pm.

The astrology chart is cast for 17:00 hours, the probable time the storm and wind change passed through the western suburbs and reached Melbourne at 5:23pm. People were already going to hospitals and pharmacies at that time, as reported by Nine News:



Some reflections:

  • The third house – Taurus – signifies the airways and bronchial tubes to the lungs.
  • Sun, Mercury, Saturn – all malefic, aspect the 3rd house by 7th dristhi.
  • Lord of the 3rd House – Venus – is in the 10th house, papa ketari, hemmed in by malefics; it is also debilitated in Navamsha.
  • 4th house signifies the lungs, weather and farmlands.
  • Lord of the 4th house (Mercury) is in the 9th house, hemmed in by malefics. Mercury is combust the sun and as such, Mercury turns malefic and is a poor dispositor of its own house.
  • No benefics aspect the 4th house at the time of the thunderstorm

We look to the chart erected for the establishment of the state of Victoria. In this instance, Victoria was a colony of the state of New South Wales. A bill was passed in the NSW Legislative Assembly establishing the state of Victoria on 1st of July 1851. As we do not have a time for the passing of the bill, we take the standard 12:00 designation:



Points of interest in this chart:

  • The third house – Scorpio (house of cyclones, epidemics, storms) – is aspected by Rahu (vata, smoke, chokes airways and lungs). Smoke inhalation causes death.
  • Sun, Mercury, malefics, aspect the 4rd house by 7th dristhi.
  • House 3 and 6 lack malefics; 11th house has moon (weak malefic in this instance) and Rahu. Insignificant resistance to disease.
  • Rahu (malefic) aspects 3rd house, airways and bronchia
  • 4th house signifies the lungs, weather and farmlands. Lord of the 4th (Jupiter) is in the lagna and malefic in this instance. 4th house is also aspected by malefic, Sun, and Mercury, who turns malefic by association.
  • Lord of the 1st house (Mercury) is in the 10th house, conjunct Sun, malefic. Mercury is in infancy and weak.

A torrid day of heat, turned cool with thunderstorm. Gusting winds up to 91kilometres per hour collected the rye grass pollen and deposited over the suburbs causing fatal consequences for nine people and sent 8,500 people to ambulance, pharmacy and hospitals. Third and fourth houses are weak in the thunderstorm chart and receive no strength from benefics to prevent illness.


 Rain caused the rye grass pollen to burst; gusting winds carried the pollen across the suburbs

The Outcomes:

Victoria will adopt a warning system and a statewide emergency plan for crises such as the thunderstorm asthma that hit the state last year, killing nine people. The final report into the deadly storm event, which was handed down on Thursday, found it could not be predicted but emergency services were not adequately prepared for such a wide-scale catastrophe. Nine Victorians died and 8,500 were admitted to hospital amid the freak storm that hit the state on 21 November. The storm kicked up dust and pollen, and the moisture in the air from the humid, hot day burst the pollen into hundreds of tiny allergenic fragments, penetrating deep into victims’ airways.

During the peak, there was a call for an ambulance every 4.5 seconds and 10,000 people presented at emergency departments – putting a never-before-seen strain on the system. The storm even affected people who had never had asthma before, with the pollen triggering hay fever that then escalated to asthma symptoms.

Victoria’s government says it will develop a real-time monitoring system to track emergency demand to ensure a faster response to large-scale emergencies. The plan will be funded by $15.56m in the Victorian budget next week and includes training, research, increased monitoring and interpretation of pollen data and a new emergency warning system.

The health minister, Jill Hennessy, said Victoria needed a “canary in the mineshaft”. “This emergency was of a scale and severity of which has never been known and we are leaving no stone unturned,” Hennessy said. “We are determined that Victorians are never caught by surprise by events like the thunderstorm asthma event again.” She said a widespread reform of the emergency warning system was under way and the state would be alerted immediately if there were a spike in people presenting at hospital emergency departments.

Warning System Launched 1 October 2017: Visit Website

Source: The Guardian




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