Capturing the force of nature: Dramatic photos show the brutality and beauty of Australia’s changing seasons
Some are terrifying, some are awe inspiring – all are beautiful.
These images, showing the elements at their wildest and most magnificent, have been released in a new calendar.
Each year the Bureau of Meteorology and Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society organises a competition for the best weather pictures, offering an enduring record of the moments when nature puts on her most dramatic show.
January: An electrical storm perfectly complements fireworks launched to mark Australia Day 2012 celebrations in Perth, in a stunning shot by Matthew Titmanis
February: A thunderstorm sweeps over the Melbourne suburb of Carrum Downs, captured by Flavio Bonicelli
March: Sunset highlights streets of stratocumulus over Buninyong, central Victoria by Keith Day
April: Majesty and threat – A cumulonimbus with anvil seen beyond wind turbines at Burra, SA by photographer Helen Simpson
And the stunning images make up its 2013 calendar, with lightning bolts, dust storms and enormous clouds creating a dramatic series of natural spectacles.
One of the star moments Down Under was captured by amateur photographer James Collier after he witnessed a thunderstorm in March.
James, from Geelong, Victoria, watched as the storm cell caused an abrupt increase in wind – with gusts jumping from 30 km/h to 115 km/h as the storm passed nearby.
The image is used as the December entry for the calendar.
He said: ‘It was calm, almost surreal. I was clicking off ten second time exposures when all of a sudden it let go.
‘I really jumped and nearly fell out the back of the wagon.
‘I wasn’t sure I had pressed the button and had several seconds of anxiety before I confirmed that I had it.
‘There was a lot of sheet lightning and only the occasional bolt, missing what I thought was the best bolt as I adjusted the camera.
‘I continued to shoot when the cell let go with this massive bolt. It was stunning to watch but all over in a second. I very nearly didn’t go out that night.’
Matt Titmanis shot nature and man made in perfect harmony for January.
The science teacher, from Perth, was on his way to Australia Day celebrations in January this year when he got his camera out.
May: Ship in sea fog off McCrae, Port Phillip Bay, Victoria, by photographer Meredith Banhidi
June: In the wake of a thunderstorm, hail blankets paddocks at Marong, Victoria by John Allen
July: A squall line associated with a thunderstorm over Era Beach, south of Sydney by photographer Bruce Cooper
With perfect timing, Matt photographed a multi-coloured fireworks display in the foreground of a huge lightning storm.
And full-time photographer Peter Macdonald, who has specialised in shooting the outback for 20-years, was left mesmerised by the dust storm used in September.
The photo, taken in 2008, captures the sheer size of the 50km storm which was so large it only within the lens from 4km away.
Peter, from South Australia, said: ‘Unfortunately I left it too late to run.
‘A howling mass of sand hit me, I could barely see, and had difficulty finding the car.
‘When I did I stupidly opened the door and it was amazing how much sand got in.
‘It was around 45 minutes before the storm turned into something like a sandy fog with visibility increased to 100 metres.’
August: The ethereal beauty of a mist bow and fog at Mount Anne in Tasmania by Grant Dixon
September: A massive dust storm rolls over the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary in the northern Flinders Ranges of South Australia, in this stunning photograph by Peter MacDonald
October: A thunderstorm threatens the Gold Coast, Queensland by photographer Ann Van Breemen
The calendar, now in its 29th year, was launched to promote the understanding of meteorology and oceanography.
This year saw hundreds of entrees, leaving project manager Robert Kershaw with the daunting task of whittling it down to 13 for the calendar and front cover.
Robert said: ‘From an Australia Day lightning display that competes with fireworks in Perth, to rows of deep pink and violet stratocumulous clouds in country Victoria, or clouds casting dappled shadows on the terracotta-coloured Simpson Desert – this calendar presents an enduring record of the moments when nature puts on her most dramatic show.’
November: The shadows of cumulus clouds dapple the parallel dunes of the Simpson Desert by Steve Strike