Australian Weather Calendar
April: A cumulonimbus surprise
Severe weather photographer Helen Simpson often checks the Bureau's weather radar for alerts for her beloved storm chasing expeditions around Burra in mid-north South Australia. Helen is a full-time carer for her disabled daughter, Kylie and when time permits, she competes in dog obedience trials with her German Shepherd, Ziva. Given enough notice, Helen (a member of the Australian Severe Weather Association and a Storm Spotter for the Bureau), will take Kylie and Ziva as she pursues likely storms from her home at Booborowie. She's been a keen (and published) photographer for almost 20 years: 'It's a passion—and you've always got to be ready for the unexpected shot. It's like leaving my arm behind if I travel without a camera.' The habit paid off in January 2010 with this image of a cumulonimbus above the Hallett Wind Farm Stage 2, about 8 km north of Burra: 'I was driving towards Burra, turned a corner and Oh My God, there it was.'
Thunderstorms in Australia can occur at any time of the year but are most common in the warmer months between October and March. Darwin is the thunder capital of Australia, with around 80 thunderstorms every year, and thunder and lightning shows nearly every afternoon during the wet season. Thunderstorm frequency gradually decreases to the south, reaching a minimum of around five a year in Hobart.