A storm that forms so often it has its own name

Hector over the Tiwi Islands Photo Courtesy: Bureau of Meteorology
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TIWI ISLANDS, NORTHERN TERRITORY(AUSTRALIA )- No this isn't something we see in central Ohio. We're taking a trip to the land down under to talk about a storm so popular that it has its own name. That storm is called Hector or "Hector the Convector".

This storm has recently gained some social media buzz, so I thought this would be a great opportunity to discuss the weather phenomena.

Hector is one of the few storms in the world that has its own name. That's because this storm forms daily over the Tiwi Islands, which is north of Darwin in the Northern Territory of Australia.

This storm develops around 3 p.m. during the "build up" season between September and December and right through the wet season whenever the monsoon isn't active.

Hector didn't just receive its name recently, either. This storm was named by World War II pilots traveling between Darwin and Papua New Guinea because it was treated as a landmark in the atmosphere to let pilots where they're located at.

The perfect conditions over the Bathurst and Melville Islands allow Hector to form. That is, the sea breeze effect and the shape of the islands. A sea breeze or onshore breeze is any wind that blows from a large body of water toward or onto a landmass; it develops due to differences in air pressure created by the differing heat capacities of water and dry land.

Elevation Map of the Tiwi Islands. Photo Courtesy: Tiwi Land Council

The shape and elevation of the Tiwi Islands also aid in Hector's daily development. The sea breeze or winds that move over the islands go up along the terrain and this helps to lift parcels of air into the upper parts of the atmosphere to form a cloud or storm. This is like a cold front that moves through the area. The cold front brings cold air near the surface and interacts with the warm and moist air in front of it to help lift parcels of air and develop them into clouds, storms, etc.

This storm isn't only fun to look at, but it's extremely beneficial to scientists. The weather is an inexact science and even though there have been many advancements in science and technology, there are still quite a bit of things we have yet to understand and even discover. Having a storm that develops almost daily at the same time is extremely beneficial for science and research purposes, especially when trying to understand cumulonimbus clouds, thunderstorms and lightning.

"Hector the Convector", is known as one of the world's most consistently large thunderstorms, reaching heights of approximately 20 kilometers or 66,000 feet!