Australian Weather Calendar: September 2019

September photograph by Chris McFerran

Head in the clouds

Chris McFerran's passion for weather photography first began back in the 1990s, after he moved to Queensland's Southern Downs region. 'I remember taking photos of cloud formations along the range and while I didn't understand much about what was actually going on in the atmosphere, I knew the clouds were different,' he says. 'They were immense, towering, cumulonimbus thunderstorms and when I developed the first roll of storm-cloud photos, I was instantly hooked!' This eventually brought forth an intense passion for Chris to document the weather and visual observation was not enough. Chris began honing the craft of photography to capture amazing cloud formations and severe weather phenomena across the Darling Downs. On this particular day, Chris says he watched the 'tower' of the cumulonimbus cloud go up over Leslie Dam, and followed it for most of the afternoon before the storm crossed the ranges and this stunning rainbow appeared. This was the pot of gold he'd been waiting for, and to this day it still has him on cloud nine.

The science

Thunderstorms can occur at any time of year, but in Queensland, where this photo was taken, they're most common from September to March. The frequency of storms during this period is primarily due to the increase in the sun’s energy during the warmer spring and summer months, and extra moisture coming in from the sea, which can combine with seasonal weather patterns that are favourable for storm growth.