Cameron Hines has been chasing storms in Australia since 2001, when he could legally drive. On Saturday, 14 years later, he hit paydirt.
While heading to the Warrumbungles mountain range in northern NSW in the hope of catching some snow pics, he watched a tornado form right in front of his eyes.
“I was on a snow chase but I knew there were going to be storms about so I knew there’d be a bit of potential,” he said.
“Never in a million years would I have imaged what panned out.”
The tornado touched down at Quambone, about 179km west of Coonabarabran:
Here’s how it looked for Hines:
Hines followed the tornado as it intensified into a classic cone shape:
And stuck around long enough to get this stunning shot of a tornado under the stars:
“Obviously, I didn’t go out chasing a tornado, they’re like a golden prize in Australia,” he said. “That’s the first I’ve seen here.”
Hines says he’s been fascinated with wild weather since he was an eight-year-old kid hanging off the balcony while the rest of the family sheltered inside.
He grew up to work with his passion, and is now employed as a technical officer (observer) for the Bureau of Meteorology, currently based at Cobar, 300km west of where he saw the tornado.
With a couple of friends, they regularly post storm pictures on their Facebook page, South Brisbane Storms, which now has more than 70,000 followers.
The Quambone tornado is still generating plenty of feedback on the page, too, as locals are now posting pictures of the damage:
Hines told the ABC Australia typically “averages about 16 tornadoes per year and to date, there have been 364 documented tornadoes in NSW since record keeping began in the late 1700s”.
You can see more of his Quambone tornado pics here.
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