STUNNING ILLUMINATION: No such thing as the dark of night as a lightning storm passed by Canberra very early on Saturday. Photo: Jonathan McFeat
It took a little while for Jonathan McFeat to figure out exactly what the bright flashes were outside his new Kingston Foreshore apartment.
Was it an alien invasion, or the coming apocalypse, he and his girlfriend pondered jokingly late on Friday night?
It wasn't until he saw forks of lightning consume distant clouds that Mr McFeat realised it was a ferocious storm cell, albeit a long way off, that was silently flashing through his window, and it was time to grab his camera.
"It sort of felt a bit apocalyptic, actually, because there was all that electrical activity and that amazing cloud cell, and yet there was no noise to link it to a thunderstorm," he said.
Mr McFeat said the storm intensified after midnight, and the resulting shot - a combination of two 30-second exposures that show a minute of continuous lightning activity in a single image - was taken at 12.22am.
''I've always wanted to be able to capture lightning, but I've never been able to be in the right place at the right time. I'm really into night photography and I had a few hours spare so I thought I'd just sit and do it,'' he said.
The storm was one of a number that have lashed the capital region over the past week, including a particularly severe storm cell that dumped hail and caused damage across Canberra's south on Sunday evening.
The Bureau of Meteorology's Sean Carson said such severe storms were mainly a summertime phenomenon.
''You do get them at any time of year, but, there is more heat at this time of year, and that's the main driver. With more heat you can have more energy in the atmosphere, and basically that allows the clouds to grow taller into the sky,'' he said.
''The taller a cloud is the more collision of raindrops and ice particles can occur inside a storm, so therefore the cloud can basically hold more volume of liquid and ice.''
Mr Carson said ice particles - or hail - started to form at an elevation where the temperature was below minus 20 degrees, and then reduced in size as they fell through warmer air. Some hail might fall as much as 12 kilometres before it hits the ground.
Isolated thunderstorms, like those in the region over the weekend, were generally triggered by wind convergence, or air being pushed from the surface up into an unstable atmosphere. Mr Carson said they were usually only a couple of kilometres wide, generally moved from west to east across Canberra, and lasted about 20 minutes or so, which meant their effects could be quite isolated.
But storms moving north-south or south-north across Canberra could be more severe as the cells rotated and created a self-sustaining system that could last for hours.
Emergency services received more than 60 calls for assistance following Sunday night's storm in southern Canberra, which hit Theodore and Conder with high winds, rain and large hail.
But the storm was isolated and relatively short-lived - the nearby official Tuggeranong rain gauge recorded just 0.2 millimetres.