Weather News

Morning Glory rolls over the Gulf of Carpentaria

Andrew Casper-Richardson, Sunday October 11, 2020 - 10:36 EDT

On Sunday morning conditions were just right for the famous, and rare, cloud formation known as the "Morning Glory" to develop over the Gulf of Carpenatria.

These rare, rolling cloud formations can be hundreds of kilometres long and only form a few times each year. They are most common in the area from September to November and it takes a specific set of atmospheric conditions for them to form. 

Image: Infrared Himawari-8 satellite image showing Morning Glory over the Gulf of Carpentaria

Sea breezes need to develop on both coasts of the Cape Yorke Peninsula,,which was the case on Saturday afternoon. As these two sea breezes interact with each other over the Cape Yorke Peninsula a line of cloud is formed. The airmass over land cools at night, allowing it to descend. At the same time, over the Gulf of Carpentaria, an inversion layer develops and the descending air that originated over the Cape Yorke Peninsula, slides under the inversion layer. This creates a series of atmospheric "waves". Water vapour is forced upwards ahead of each wave which causes it to condense and form a cloud. Behind each wave the opposite happens and the cloud evaporates as it descends, giving the signature line of clouds that is known as the Morning Glory.

As the sun rises the Morning Glory clouds are eventually evaporated but not before potentially travelling hundreds of kilometres across the Gulf of Carpentaria.

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