Meet Hector, the Thunderstorm That Can Tell Time

If you’re like most people, you probably have a friend who says they’ll be there in 10 minutes, but you end up waiting half an hour for them. Unlike your friend, a special thunderstorm known as “Hector the Convector” shows up like clockwork over the Tiwi Islands in Australia at precisely 3 p.m. every day during the transition from the dry season to the wet season — September-December. So, why is Hector so reliable? Hector’s reliability is the result of a unique set of conditions conducive to thunderstorm development. The size, shape and location of the Tiwi Islands make them a perfect place for Hector to develop. Sea breezes develop over the islands from all sides and meet in the middle. These converging winds, which are carrying moisture from the surrounding sea, have to go somewhere when they clash, so they go up. This rising column of air becomes cooler with height, which causes water vapor to condense into liquid droplets, forming clouds. As a result of these factors, Hector can reach up to 66,000 feet high in the atmosphere — above the cruising altitude of a commercial jet. While Hector produces some jaw-dropping thunder cloud formations, the storm’s reliability makes it one of the most studied thunderstorms in the world.