While all clouds are categorized based on the type, there are not many clouds that are named. Australia is home to two of these named clouds: Morning Glory clouds and Hector. Learn about these two very different types of clouds that predictably form in Australia.
Morning Glory Clouds
Morning Glory clouds are long tubular formations that can stretch up to a 1,000 kilometers in length. A type of roll cloud, similar formations have been spotted around the world but the area around Burketown in Queensland Australia is the only place in the world where the formation of Morning Glory clouds can be predicted.
Each spring (from late September to early November), this rare and unique cloud formation appears in the southern part of the Gulf of Carpentaria in Northern Australia and is visible from Burketown.
The altitude at which these clouds form can range from a few hundred meters high to up to two kilometers up in the atmosphere.
These Morning Glory clouds were captured by Mick Petroff in 2009 flying near the Gulf of Carpentaria, Australia.
How do Morning Glory Clouds Form?
This graphic provides a simplistic view of how Morning Glory clouds form. These clouds form when waves of moist air from the sea rise and meet drier air. The cloud forms at the condensation level. The air descending at the back of the wave evaporates.
This continual cycle results in the Morning Glory cloud formation.
For more detail, you can learn about how Morning Glory clouds are formed:
Hector the Convector
Another predictable cloud formation that occurs in Australia has the nickname “Hector the Convector“. Every afternoon at around 3pm from about September through March, a cumulonimbus thundercloud develops over Melville and Bathurst islands that make up the Tiwi Islands in Australia’s Northern Territory.
Moist tropical air, sea breeze caused by the differential heating between the islands and the ocean, and the pyramid shape of the islands all contribute to this meteorological phenomenon. Sea breeze air moving between where the two islands meet forms the thunderstorm cloud.
Hector can reach up to 20 kilometers high.
Crook, N. A. (2001). Understanding Hector: The dynamics of island thunderstorms. Monthly weather review, 129(6), 1550-1563.
Meet Hector, the thunderstorm that can tell time. (2020, September 19). Scientific Scribbles – The University of Melbourne. https://blogs.unimelb.edu.au/sciencecommunication/2020/09/19/meet-hector-the-thunderstorm-that-can-tell-time/