Chas­ing storms

Warragul & Drouin Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - By Keith An­der­son

War­ragul woman He­len Mur­dock doesn’t have her head in the clouds but she does look to­wards them when­ever she gets the chance.

Ms Mur­dock is what is known as a “storm chaser”.

Some­body that loves the spec­ta­cle of a storm, the clouds rolling in ahead of it, the hail, rain and light­ning.

Out comes the cam­era, be it the video, her pro­fes­sional qual­ity still cam­era or just her ‘phone, if there’s move­ment in the sky.

Ms Mur­dock is one of nine mem­bers of Gipp­s­land Storm Chasers formed five years ago, but there are many more “am­a­teur” en­thu­si­asts that sub­mit pho­tos and more than 5500 fol­low­ers that fol­low its web­site and Facebook page.

The group’s mem­bers in­clude a stay at home mother and fa­ther, sales rep­re­sen­ta­tives, of­fice work­ers, a nurse, a uni­ver­sity stu­dent and emer­gency ser­vices vol­un­teer that live in an area spread be­tween War­ragul and Bairns­dale.

Com­mu­ni­ca­tions tech­nol­ogy ad­vances have been a real boon to storm chasers and storm watch­ers.

As well as Facebook, web­sites and mobile com­mu­ni­ca­tions apps, “weather cams” and radar are keep­ing around the clock eyes on the weather.

Ms Mur­dock ex­pects it won’t be too long be­fore she’ll have a cam­era on the roof of her house that will al­low her to sit at her com­puter and see the weather head­ing her way.

Gipp­s­land Storm Chasers al­ready has a cam­era op­er­at­ing 24 hours a day at Jeer­alang in the Strz­elecki Ranges that can be ac­cessed at the web­site gipp­s­land­storm­chasers.com

The group in­tends to even­tu­ally have a net­work cov­er­ing all of Gipp­s­land.

Ms Mur­dock be­came in­volved with Storm Chasers some­what by ac­ci­dent.

Cloud for­ma­tions, weather and storms and what in­flu­ences them had al­ways in­ter­ested her.

As a mem­ber of a group of cloud watch­ers con­nected on Facebook she saw a mes­sage from Gipp­s­land Storm Chasers seek­ing some­body to ad­min­is­ter its web site, a role she took ini­tially be­fore be­com­ing a “chaser”.

Ms Mur­dock’s com­puter stores a myr­iad of pho­tos and videos she has taken.

Some she is most proud of are a rare Un­du­la­tus Asper­a­tus cloud for­ma­tion that looks like an up­side-down wave for­ma­tion, a Mam­matic cloud that she took at War­ragul af­ter a rain storm and a Rope cloud, an un­formed tor­nado, that she spot­ted near Pak­en­ham.

Also cap­tured have been some of the “pret­tier” sights in the sky; a dou­ble rain­bow over War­ragul and sun haloes.

Ms Mur­dock sees her in­ter­est in storms, weather and what causes them as an out­let from a busy life as a full-time dis­trict nurse, wife, mother and grand­mother and as a mem­ber of the Rich­mond Football Club cheer squad.

Gipp­s­land Storm Chaser He­len Mur­dock checks over some of the dra­matic weather shots she has taken at her com­puter in her War­ragul home.

A rope cloud or un­formed tor­nado cloud for­ma­tion cap­tured by He­len Mur­dock of War­ragul, a mem­ber of Gipp­s­land Storm Chasers.

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