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BOM chooses Australia’s most incredible weather photos

Shoba Rao, November 6, 2019 7:00PM News Corp Australia Network

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For Will Eades, it was the volatile nature of the storms rolling through his home of Port Macquarie, NSW, that sparked a passion for weather photography, particularly lightning. Picture: Will Eades Photography /Australian Weather Calendar 2020 media_cameraFor Will Eades, it was the volatile nature of the storms rolling through his home of Port Macquarie, NSW, that sparked a passion for weather photography, particularly lightning. Picture: Will Eades Photography /Australian Weather Calendar 2020


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Rainbows, aurora australis and massive, fluffy clouds that make you want to bounce on them are just some of the incredible weather phenomena captured in the Bureau of Meteorology’s official 2020 calendar.

The calendar, which carries the theme of “Weather safety for all Australians”, contains a selection of photographs taken by amateur* and professional photographers from all over the country.

media_cameraMal Brewitt took this storm photo of Brisbane’s CBD from his apartment in Brisbane’s Hamilton, Qld. Picture: Mal Brewitt /Australian Weather Calendar 2020

Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) CEO Dr Andrew Johnson said competition was as tough as ever with hundreds submitting their photographs.

“Every page provides an insight* into both the striking visuals and the danger posed by severe weather conditions, so it perfectly fits our weather safety message of ‘Know your weather. Know your risk’,” he said.

A feature of this year’s calendar is the range of clouds, from pileus and shelf to mammatus and lenticular formations.

Each image is accompanied by a description of how nature made it happen.

On its cover is NSW photographer Warren Keelan’s photo of a vivid rainbow on the South Coast in Wollongong, NSW.

“I chase the light in the afternoons for rainbows — at a certain angle you get that refraction* and I try to be out in the water when that happens,” he said.

media_cameraNSW photographer Warren Keelan’s photo of a vivid rainbow on the South Coast in Wollongong, NSW. Picture: Warren Keelan Photography/Australian Weather Calendar 2020

Photographer David McDonald took an amazing photo of mammatus clouds rolling in at Lake Macquarie, NSW.

These clouds form in sinking air. As air descends the water in the air evaporates. Under certain atmospheric* conditions this evaporation results in an increased downward movement of air, which drags the cloud down.

Photographer Mal Brewitt shot an image of thunderstorm clouds and lightning hitting the city skyline from his apartment in Hamilton, a suburb of Brisbane, Qld.

“That afternoon I took maybe 400 photos and there were five or six that were really good,” he said.

On a road trip from Darwin, NT, to Adelaide, SA, photographer Cathryn Vasseleu captured an image of an intriguing* cloud formation at a stopover at Lake Hart in SA.

“‘It’s such dramatic countryside — the bright white lake, red earth, and bright blue sky,” she said.

“I remember it was very dusty and the dust had given the clouds a pinkish lining, it was just fascinating.”

media_cameraCathryn Vasseleu noticed an interesting cloud formation during a stopover at Lake Hart, SA. Picture: Cathryn Vasseleu /Australian Weather Calendar 2020

Now in its 36th year, the calendar is published by the BOM and the Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic* Society (AMOS). It is available to buy from the BOM.

media_cameraBen Broady is no stranger to shooting the stars, but capturing a rare weather phenomenon known as red sprites was an ‘out of this world’ feeling for the Kimberley-based landscape photographer. Picture: Ben Broady /Australian Weather Calendar 2020
media_cameraAn award-winning political journalist for over 30 years, Lyndal Curtis now prefers a less hectic pace of life — choosing to swap her notebook for a camera, and taking the time to capture the beauty of the world around her. Picture: Lyndal Curtis Photography /Australian Weather Calendar 2020
media_cameraFormer pilot David Macdonald relied on the Bureau’s aviation weather forecasts and warnings in his professional life. This image shows mammatus cloud, an example of cloud formed in sinking air. Picture: David Macdonald /Australian Weather Calendar 2020
media_cameraAs a former marathon runner, Andrew Thomas knows that persistence pays off. Over many years he’s honed his craft, embracing the latest drone technology, and working tirelessly on two major projects — photographing the 59 US national parks and his local area around Ballarat, Vic. Picture: Andrew Thomas Photographer /Australian Weather Calendar 2020
media_cameraIt seems when Mike Zupanc puts his mind to something, there’s no stopping him. He recalls how he first got into flying gliders, which is how he came to photograph this spectacular morning glory cloud. Picture: Michael Zupanc /Australian Weather Calendar 2020
media_cameraHe’d dreamt of a career as a meteorologist, but James Dun never thought his love of weather would land him in the Australian Weather Calendar. “I was born in Katherine in the NT and watching the big storms roll through as a kid really started my fascination with the weather,” he said. Picture: James Dun /Australian Weather Calendar 2020
media_cameraWhile Martin Ascher has always had a love for photography, it’s his passion for the local community that gives him the motivation to capture his hometown of Mallacoota, Vic, through the lens. Picture: Martin Ascher/Mallacoota Images/Australian Weather Calendar 2020
media_cameraAaron Stanley experienced all the highs and lows of life on Antarctica while working for the Bureau of Meteorology as a Technical Officer/Engineer at Davis Research Station in 2016. During this stint, he captured this fascinating image of the aurora australis. Picture: Aaron Stanley/APS Photography /Australian Weather Calendar 2020


  • amateur: for a hobby, not a job
  • insight: ability to understand something completely or deeply
  • refraction: when light splits into separate colours, as happens to create a rainbow
  • atmospheric: in the atmosphere
  • intriguing: catches your attention and interest
  • oceanographic: study of the science of oceans


Why does lightning strike the same place twice?

Why is the sky blue?

Magical moonbows explained

Nine-hour rainbow sets record


  1. What is the BOM’s weather safety message? What does it mean?
  2. What are four types of clouds mentioned?
  3. What does a mammatus cloud look like?
  4. How many photos did Mal take to get a few good ones?
  5. For how many years has the BOM made a weather calendar?


1. Pick the winning photos
Imagine you have been asked to choose the top five winning photos from the 2020 BOM calendar. Choose the five best photos in order from the very best to the fifth-best. The judging criteria (the rules for the award) must be based on the photo itself, the importance of what the photo teaches us about weather and how well it helps us understand the different types of clouds or weather.

For each photo, write the reasons why you have chosen it, using the criteria to explain your choices.

Time: allow 30 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Visual Arts, Science, Geography

2. Extension
“In the clouds”
Use this as inspiration or an idea for a piece of creative or factual writing (such as a report) or an artwork or factual illustration (such as an informative poster or diagram).

Time: allow 30 minutes to complete this activity.
Curriculum Links: English, Science, Geography, Visual Arts, Visual Communication Design

A Picture Tells 1000 Words
They say a picture can tell 1000 words, and these pictures certainly are amazing. But what if you can’t see them?

Pick your favourite picture to write a vivid and detailed description for someone who might not be able to see the pictures for themselves.

Test out your description and ask a classmate to try and draw what they think you are describing. Were they close? Did you need more detail or direction?

Be specific and straight to the point so that you don’t lose the imagery, but rather create it.

HAVE YOUR SAY: What sort of weather would you most like to photograph?
No one-word answers. Use full sentences to explain your thinking. No comments will be published until approved by editors.

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