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Aero-surfers fly 1900km for roll cloud but miss one at home

It's like sufing, but in an aircraft: Tyagarah-based glider pilots Rick Bowie and Adrian Black flew up to the Gulf of Carpentaria to ride a roll cloud.
It's like sufing, but in an aircraft: Tyagarah-based glider pilots Rick Bowie and Adrian Black flew up to the Gulf of Carpentaria to ride a roll cloud.

UPDATE: TYAGARAH-based glider pilots Rick Bowie and Adrian Black travelled all the way to the Gulf of Carpentaria to soar on a roll cloud only to miss the one that appeared in their own backyard.

"We landed the plane two hours before that roll cloud, after a rough flight, and were just too tired to think about riding it," Mr Bowie said.

That doesn't look like a surfboard: Rick Bowie and Adrian Black's glider between
That doesn't look like a surfboard: Rick Bowie and Adrian Black's glider between "waves" at Burketown.

Mr Bowie has ridden numerous storm fronts from Tyagarah north, but says the longer you ride them the closer a pilot will get to restricted airspace above the Gold Coast, which causes headaches for aircraft handlers.

The roll clouds, otherwise known as 'morning glories', of the Gulf provide keen gliding pilots with plenty of air space and Mr Bowie has ridden them in previous years taking him far out into the Gulf and hundreds of kilometres from his starting point at Burketown.

This year Mr Bowie and Mr Black managed to ride one morning glory, though others at the camp failed to get any at all - despite waiting for a window for several weeks.

The best forecasting technique for glider pilots waiting for a morning glory is to watch for heavy dew forming on the glider wings the night prior, they say.

Cloud rolling in over Evans Head.
Cloud rolling in over Evans Head. Becci Hennessy

INITIAL REPORT: A SERIES of huge rolling clouds has swept up the Northern Rivers coast in a rare meteorological event more commonly associated with Cape York.

Morning Glory cloud formation rolling in at Evans Head Wednesday afternoon.
Morning Glory cloud formation rolling in at Evans Head Wednesday afternoon. Chris Hosie

The roll clouds, or morning glory clouds, were spotted at Iluka, Evans Head, Woodburn, and Ballina and are the result of a little-understood phenomena - most of which don't really apply to the Northern Rivers.

Weather event know as a 'Morning Glory' passes over Snapper Rock Evans Head.
Weather event know as a 'Morning Glory' passes over Snapper Rock Evans Head. Rickyluv Photography

According to Wikipedia, the clouds are generally sighted at Burketown at the bottom of the Gulf of Carpentaria, on the western edge of the divot at the bottom of Cape York, between September and November.

Theories about why the cloud formations happen are vague and appear to be based around interactions between particular sea breezes that form in the Gulf of Carpentaria, frontal weather systems crossing central Australia, and days of high humidity.

It was an awesome view
It was an awesome view Paul Stanley-Jones

However the cloud formations made it to the Northern Rivers, they managed to delight residents, who were only too happy to film and photograph them and share them to social media.

Time laspe of the roll cloud that came up the coast with the Southerly change this afternoon.(John)

Posted by Northern NSW Severe Weather on Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Several images of the roll clouds were posted on The Northern Star's Facebook page (and now form part of today's Photo of the Day poll) while dozens more were posted on the Northern NSW Severe Weather and North Coast Storm Chasers Facebook pages.

The Alps have come to Woodburn!
The Alps have come to Woodburn! Paul Stanley-Jones

If you have any images or video of the roll cloud you would like to share, you can do so here or on our Facebook page.

Topics:  editors picks weather


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