16th November 2013

It’s only a month late… but here is the report from the last storm chase into the wheatbelt region of Western Australia. With me on this chase was my friend Jim and my son Connor. We initially headed down towards Williams, but soon realized that we were too far south, so we headed for Wickepin. I remember that it was a very hot day and the flies were driving us mad. We sat for a while on the side of the road and watched to see where the storms might develop. It soon became apparent that we needed to head north, so we made plans to head towards Quairading. We found a great spot just north of Lake Mears which had a good outlook towards the north. It wasn’t long before the storms that had developed to the north were fast approaching our position.

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At one point, the lightning was getting too close for comfort, so we took shelter in the car, just in case. As night fell, a good sized cell moved to our west and produced some amazing colors as the sun set. As the cell moved south of our position, it was dropping some big bolts and it wasn’t long until we noticed that lightning had started a fire in the distance. This is not a good situation at any time the year, but during harvest, it is potentially disastrous. As we raced toward the location, we saw that farmers from every direction were already making their way there with their fire fighting units.

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What an amazing site as we came over the hill to see a dozen utes, farm trucks and volunteer firefighting units already on the scene. We felt a bit helpless because there was not really a lot we could do to help. Before long the fire was under control but the threat of further lightening strikes was very real.

As a photographer and storm chaser, I love to get out and shoot severe weather events. But I also have the utter most respect for the people who live on and work the land. Lightning, hail and severe thunderstorms, whilst awesome to watch and photograph, can and do cause a lot of damage to crops and farm infrastructure. The following shot is of a volunteer fire fighting unit as it was returning from the fire. As it went past, they put their lights and siren on for us. As luck would have it, I had my shutter open and got this amazing image.

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Titled ‘Lights and Sirens’, this image is dedicated to all of those people who live and work in the rural areas of our state,  and I would like to say a big thank you for all that you do for us. In particular, I would like to acknowledge the tireless effort that many volunteers put in fighting fires in rural areas. Everyday people helping each other in a time of need. This is what our great country in built on.

After this drama had passed, we settled in for a couple of hours to watch another couple of cells pass through. The following images are just a sample from this chase and a few of them are available to purchase from mattfrickerphotography.com

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