Rambles of ambles and sagas of suburbia

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Cumulonimbus Calvus, February 2013.


cumulonimbus calvus cloud at sunset

You know what? I sat down this evening to tap out the latest saga of the Great South West Walk hike. The trouble is the next section was the worst of the trip. Not worst as in funny, but worst as in crap-fest. It was an uninspiring 20 km slog through pine plantations and roads during soaking rain. As a result, I've only got a handful of pathetic images to include and just looking at them now repels me. Instead, I've delayed that post and will attempt it next time, but I must warn you it will be short and nasty.

So, for a change in pace I thought I'd throw together something lighter on writing and bone-crushingly heavy in images. What's even better is that to achieve these photos I only had to walk approximately five metres. If I'd remembered to carry the GPS I would have included the download just for comedy purposes.

In another century (literally), I lived in Townsville, Far North Queensland for a couple of years. With extensive therapy I've almost managed to eliminate all thoughts of that place from my memory bank, but I elect to retain one thing though and that's its genuine tropical weather.

You already know I'm not a fan of hot weather, but Townsville had something that made the mind-melting heat worthwhile. The tropical storm. During the wet season I remember watching big, beastly thunder clouds lit up by lightning rolling in from the sea. They'd bring raindrops that seemed small bucket-like in size and a ten minute downpour would cause flash flooding. Once, during a soaking storm I was sure I'd seen some old bloke with a beard collecting animals.

Anyway, this was pre-digital camera era and I have exactly zero photos of that dramatic weather. What about now? Well, Melbourne gets its 'variable' weather, but it's short on tropical-style storms. So, if there are any decent clouds around, I try and make the most of them. Last Friday was one of those days. I was cruising home after a day spent at slave-ship work and building up on the horizon was an impressive looking cumulonimbus cloud. Actually, if you want to be exact it was a cumulonimbus calvus. Mm... Then again, was it a cumulonimbus incus or a cumulonimbus no-idea-rus? I think I need to consult some cloud nuts for a definitive answer. My first port of call should be the 'Cloud Appreciation Society'. Yes, there is such a thing and by reading their website they can make cloud watching quite erotic. Anyway, my cloud was definitely one to keep an eye on, but when I got home I had a problem...

cumulonimbus calvus behind house roof

The perils of suburbia. A disrupted skyline and definitely a cloud blocking fiasco was the result. Mm... There was only one thing to do and that's grab the camera and hop in the car. It was getting late in the day and knowing how quickly clouds can change, I powered up the road to a spot that I thought would be quite clear. It wasn't too bad...

cumulonimbus calvus cloud


Cumulonimbus calvus cloud

The trouble was, for the two photos above I had to stand in the middle of the road.. This was problematic as cars kept using the road, plus a few people were standing in front yards staring at me. My style was being cramped by these conditions, so I hopped back in the car and headed for the freeway. I remembered a spot on the freeway where one night I saw a bloke with a camera and tripod taking photos of lightning. It gives a pretty clear skyline, which is as good as one can ask for in a suburban wasteland, with only minimal intrusion of suburban furniture.

During the 15 minute drive, the cloud was right in front of me and was being lit up by lightning. Thinking I'd miss the whole show, I powered to the freeway hideaway and hopped out. The sun was getting low behind me, so the entire cloud was being lit into multiple colours. There was the sunlit yellow...

cumulonimbus calvus cloud close up

...and sunlit reds.

cumulonimbus calvus cloud close up


cumulonimbus calvus cloud close up

You know what though? I make no apologies that I'm about to force-feed you something. At the peak of fluffiness (technical term) another cloud sat behind, creating what looked like a halo. I went nuts with the camera as it gradually unfolded...

cumulonimbus calvus cloud close up


cumulonimbus calvus cloud close up


cumulonimbus calvus cloud close up

...and finally from a distance.

cumulonimbus calvus cloud at sunset

It was completely crazy, but do you know what? Not a drop of rain fell and as soon as I'd parked the car and got the camera out I didn't see one more bolt of lightning. A lightning photo still remains in the 'not yet achieved photographic section' of fiasco-land.

At distance, there seemed to be a defined edge that looked as if a bite had been taken out of it. Unfortunately with the zoom lens, it seems less bite-like...

cumulonimbus calvus cloud close up

...but the vibrance began to fade as the sun set.

Cumulonimbus calvus cloud

 Off to my side though, there was the rising moon...

moon behind red clouds at sunset

...and that was about it. Once the sun was gone, the cumulonimbus became a giant, grey slab, so the camera went away. I retreated back to the car and headed home as the show was over.

How easy was this post? Now, if only the Great South West Walk posts were so effortless to write...


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