Forget keeping an eye out for Santa during the Christmas break – keep an eye on the weather.
Jimboomba and Beaudesert – as well as Boonah, Ipswich, Springfield and Esk – have been identified as some of south-east Queensland’s most intense ares of thunderstorm activity, according to a University of Queensland study.
Dr Joshua Soderholm, a member of the UQ Climate Research Group, has spent the last two years constructing a thunderstorm map highlighting the least and most affected areas of the south-east Queensland.
He collaborated his findings – observing weather stations during a two-year field campaign – with historical data obtained by the Bureau of Meteorology over the last 19 years.
“The corridor south-west of Brisbane is a hotspot for intense summer storms,” he said.
Dr Soderholm’s research shows south-east Queensland thunderstorms commonly arise in two areas: in the Boonah-Beaudesert region, extending along the south-west corridor; and around Esk, with storms extending to the Sunshine Coast.
“Hailstorms are most common in Brisbane when sea breezes and a cool south-easterly change are moving through the region,” he said.
“The city of Brisbane ‘urban heat island’ accelerates the sea breeze, leading to increased moisture over the city, providing a hot and humid environment that is favourable for feeding storms.
“The most optimal storm conditions for Brisbane are also associated with a deep layer of warm, moist air from agriculture out west moving eastwards over the coast.”
Dr Soderholm’s field research included Australia’s first mobile weather radar, weather balloons and quadcopters – allowing him to get close to storms and collect data, providing a more accurate understanding of south-east Queensland thunderstorms.
“We measured storms in as much detail as possible to understand what was happening and to help people in the affected regions prepare for dangerous storms,” he said.
Dr Soderholm further added high-impact thunderstorms were more common than people believed historically, but were highly variable with many years between events.
The recent University of Queensland graduate hopes to expand his postdoctoral studies to other Australian regions, including Sydney, and is currently working with the insurance industry and the remote sensing sector.
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