6th March 2017

Had another great little chase into the wheatbelt this afternoon. I could see cumulus towers popping up out towards Northam, so I headed to a great spot that I like near Meckering that has good views to the east. It was a hot day (37°C+) and the flies were out in swarms. This is not unusual for this time of the year in Australia, but it takes some getting used to when you have lived in the city for a few years.

It was immediately clear that this setup was going to produce something spectacular, but I wasn’t quite expecting it to be this good.

There was a line of storms popping up that stretched from the north west to the south east (left to right in the following pano).

As impressive as the main cell in front of me was, it was the small cell to the right that caught my attention. It shot up rapidly and within an hour had became one of the most spectacular anvils I have ever seen. The following sequence of photos highlights the growth of this cell.

At this point, I made the call to move further east towards Cunderdin to follow this cell in the hope that it might became lightning active after sunset. By then, it had grown into a very large thunderstorm and the setting sun lit up the top in an impressive display of colour.

There was a fair bit of lighting in this cell, but by now it was moving away to the SE and I didn’t really plan to follow it that far.

Behind me, another thunderstorm was making its way south and this one was very lightning active, but the rain and dust obscured most of it. I did manage to get a shot of some mammatus that had formed.

As darkness fell (and a gazillion mosquitoes came out) I decided to head back to the Great Eastern Highway to find a better location to try and capture some lighting shots. I finally found a spot just west of Cunderdin and set up the camera. The decaying storm that was approaching still had plenty of energy and the gust front pushing out in front of it made it hard to keep the camera and tripod steady. Even so, I managed a few photos as the storm headed my way.

Even though this chase was only a few hours long (380km round trip) I really enjoyed it. The cloud structures I saw were truly amazing. So here is one more of that anvil.

Be sure to check out my photography page at mattfrickerphotography.com where you can  purchase many of my weather images. Enjoy.

1st March 2017

It’s been a while since Perth saw any decent thunderstorm activity. But Wednesday 1st March broke the TS drought. At 2:45pm, my weather station at home recorded a high temperature of 41.7°C and 78% humidity, so there was plenty of heat and moisture around. The afternoon aerological diagram (T-skew) from the BoM showed plenty of potential for lifting and storm development.


And I guess it was hard to miss these babies developing…


The growth of this particular cell was impressive, as this short time-lapse shows.

So we set off out along the Brookton Highway to Mount Dale, about 4okm’s east of Kelmscott. Going up the hill, I got stuck behind a slow moving truck, which made the view in front of me all the more tantalising.

The photo above was taken on my dash mounted camera (which needs adjusting up a bit) at 6:15pm. The following radar image show the development of this storm around this time.

We got to Mount Dale a few minutes before sunset. After parking in the lookout carpark, we climbed the track to the eastern side of the hill. The view is not the best because of the trees, but there are plenty of places where you can get a reasonable view to the east. And what a view it was. I’ll let the following photo’s tell the story…

Sometimes it is nice to step back from the camera and just enjoy the show.

The view looking up. By this stage, the massive cloud structure was being lit up by the sun even though it had set, which gives you some perspective as to just how high this thing was.

By this time, a second cell was developing overhead and it was getting a bit too dangerous to stay out in the open, so we made the call to head back home. We hadn’t been home long before another set of storms that had formed north of Perth began making their way toward the city. So I set the camera up on the front porch and managed to get a few photos through the trees.

In this photo you can see the CBD skyline with the lightning hitting somewhere in the western suburbs.

More storms passed over the metro area during the night, but it had been a long day for my so I missed them. You can see some great photos from the team at Perth Weather Live on their Facebook page using the link below.


Hail is created when small water droplets are caught in the updraft of a thunderstorm. These water droplets are lifted higher and higher into the thunderstorm until they freeze into ice. Once they become heavy enough, they start to fall. If the smaller hailstones get caught in the updraft again, they will collect more water on the way up.
As the stone gets higher and higher the water will freeze on the outside of the ice pellet, causing the hailstone to get bigger. Once the hail stone becomes heavy enough it will begin to fall. Depending on how many times this processes happens before the hailstone finally falls to the ground, will determine how big the hailstone will ultimately be.

In terms of diameter, the largest hailstone on record fell in Vivian, South Dakota, in the United States on 23 July 2010 (see image below). The stone measured 8 inches (20.32 cm) across, which is similar to the size of a small bowling ball. It likely was even larger when it fell, however, because it is believed to have melted somewhat before it was measured.


Hailstones can fall from a height of 9000 m (30,000 feet) and approach the earth at speeds of as much as 193 km/h (120 miles per hour).

A hail stone shape is circular at smaller sizes and becomes more irregular at larger sizes.  Hail is generally compared to common, everyday objects when reporting size. The following chart will give you a rough idea of the size of hail and the estimated updraft speed required to carry it high into the thunderstorm. When the updraft is no longer strong enough to support the weight of the hail, it will fall to the earth.

Object         Size        Updraft Speed
pea              6mm         39 km/h
marble         13mm       56 km/h
20c              27mm       79 km/h
50c              32 mm      87 km/h
golf ball        44mm       103 km/h
egg              50mm       111 km/h
tennis ball     64mm       124 km/h
baseball        70mm       130 km/h
grapefruit      100mm     158 km/h
softball          114mm     166 km/h

Giant hail stones are usually more irregular in shape. This is because irregularities of a smaller size hail stone are exacerbated as the hail stone gets bigger. Also, smaller hailstones can merge onto a bigger hailstone. When this happens the hail stone will have bulges and will have a larger diameter in certain directions.

Below are some of the recent images we have received from PWL chasers and followers.

Image© Daniel Pardini/PWL – Various sizes from 18th October 2014, Perth

Adam Delves_18oct2014
Image© Adam Delves/PWL – Single pea size hail from 18th October 2014, Perth

Image© Carmen Mallard/PWL – Boyup Brook, 22nd October 2014.

Image© Danica Justine/PWL – Large hailstone from Boyup Brook, 22nd October 2014

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Image© Blake Moore/PWL – Egg size hailstones from Boyup Brook, 22nd October 2014

To see more images like these, visit the Perth Weather Live Facebook page and like to receive regular updates, amazing photos and much more. You might like to check out these albums.