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.