The Morning Glory Roll Cloud is a spectacular Meteorological Phenomenon that occurs regularly in the Gulf of Carpentaria, usually in September-October. It does occur elsewhere in the world, but the Gulf is the only place where it can reliably be predicted. It looks like a long cylinder of cloud stretching from one side of the sky to the other, rolling backwards up over itself as it approaches.
The Morning Glory Cloud is a Solitary Wave that forms when onshore breezes blow from opposite sides - the Gulf and Coral Sea - onto Cape York Penninsula. At night, the air cools and collapses, sending a shock wave across the Gulf, and when conditions are favourable - with moist, stable air - cloud forms at the front of this rising wave, dissipating as it rolls down the back of the wave, giving the appearance of a backward-rolling cylinder of cloud moving at about 35 kilometres per hour towards the viewer.
Glider pilots travel to the region from all over the world to 'Surf the Glory' as they can utilise the uplift on the front of the
wave, travelling for hundreds of kilometres, sometimes able to drop off the back of the Primary wave, crossing the
trough and getting enough lift to surf the next one.
Yes, there are sometimes many waves in a 'set', we have seen up to 15 in the sky at one time.
The first glider to surf the Morning Glory was Grob 109 FFN with pilots Russell White and Rob Thompson on board and you can read a compelling account of their flight via the Links below.
In 1995 Alaric Giles surfed the MG in a hang glider. He called it "aeronautical canoeing!"
Other glider pilots say: "It's the largest living thing I've ever been close up to." See the Links below.
Scientists study the MG as it can provide data on every pilot's nightmare - invisible Wind Shear (the wave with its uplift and sudden downdraught is often present without visible cloud). Doug Christie has been studying the Morning Glory for many years and was stunned when he stood on Sweers Island and witnessed a MG from the north, meeting a rare MG from the south, they met overhead, passed through each other and continued on their way, defying the laws of physics.
Each year, Burketown hosts a Morning Glory Festival - with lots of activities planned to entertain visitors while they wait to experience
this elusive and amazing work of Nature...
This year's 2015 Festival will take place on September 25-26.