John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
This "super cell" looked more like a nuclear test than bad weather.
From endless badlands to beer cans to flightless, mohawked terror birds—everything is bigger in Australia. And that certainly applies to the weather that rolled in Friday, looking more like an electric-veined thermonuclear explosion than a thunderstorm.
The evolution of the super-cell system was deftly captured by veteran chaser Daniel Shaw, who's been all over eastern Australia's ongoing storm season. "A thunderstorm with slight shear created an amazing view over [Sydney's] waterfront," Shaw writes on YouTube. His footage opens with a shot of the storm's gaping bottom looming over the city, looking like the gray, wrinkled maw of a sky leviathan preparing to inhale the populace. The camera then tracks the immense rainfall pouring down, as solid-looking as a Doric pillar and blazing with lightning. A baby's cries in the background reinforce the feeling of doom.
A series of lightning-spraying storms this week have sparked several fires in Sydney, and 6,000 people today were reported to have been without power. Six people also suffered electric shocks during Friday's nasty weather. Have a look: