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I’m not sure when I became interested in creating Australian weather photos. I suspect, watching my dad. Grab his camera and race out to photograph massive dust storms rolling in over barren farmland may have been the catalyst.
Interestingly, these dust storms were unlike most we see today. With all the talk of climate change, the current dust storms are no match for the dramatic, and frightening dust storms of my teenage years.
I have vivid memories of waiting and watching the storm build. It would be deathly quiet standing on top of a small hill, not the slightest breeze or sound, only anticipation of what was about to unfold.
The sky darkening at the horizon first, and as the front moved closer, clouds would begin to stand up, towering into the air. Inevitably, as the clouds took on a very dark and ominous blue/black colour, you would start to notice the horizon change to a dull brown colour.
The visual effect of the colour changes made the approaching front look like a gigantic roller, slowly moving towards you. I remember waiting with my father, as he frantically tried to capture the power of the incoming event.
The trick was to wait as long as you dared. Usually, the trigger to start us running for home would be, the first angry sounds of the wind howling in the distance.
Then it was grab everything and run as fast as we could home. Amazingly, we use to beat the storm most times. Racing into the safety the house just before the wind arrived and the sky turned dark.
These rolling dust storms were from memory a bi-weekly event during Summer. Usually only lasting an hour or so before settling down.
To be honest I miss those old storms. I can’t recall having seen anything anywhere near the size, or with the dramatic skies for at least 20 years, maybe more. I suspect better dryland farming practices have mostly eliminated soil erosion of that magnitude.
Hail stones lay across a headland of a vineyard after a severe thunderstorm caused hundreds of thousands of dollars damage as it swept across vineyards and horticultural crops in Western NSW and North Western Victoria.