The Tiwi islands are 2 big islands off the coast of Northern Australia known for an event the locals call “Hector the Convector”. It is a cumulonimbus thunderstorm that happens every day from September to March at almost exactly 3 PM. It can last up to 4 hours and have multiple lightning strikes per minute. It is apparently caused by the land of the island heating up, meeting with cool south-running breezes, and ultimately being forced up into the sky by the ‘pyramidal’ structure of the mountains.

Now I thought this was super cool (I’m planning on some cool cultural stuff related to thunderstorms) but the main issue I have is that I’m making this world for a conlang/linguistics project. I kinda had my heart set on making a dialect continuum where there are different ‘tribes’ that still consider themselves to share common ancestry and the ‘same’ language. That necessitates having some space for them to diversify/specialize in different niches but not so much that it impedes occasional meetings.

However, the Tiwi islands combined are approximately the size of Delaware. If you’re not American, that’s the second smallest state in the country. I was thinking of doubling the size to have more to work with (would be about the size of New Jersey if anyone was curious). If I’m doubling the size it makes sense to double the elevation, so the elevation of the 2 islands would go from 100-140 meters above sea level to 200-280 meters above sea level. The issue I’m having is that I can’t figure out if doubling the size would impede the regular thunderstorms. Will doubling the size mean there won’t be as much rising heat to meet the breeze, meaning that thunderstorms won’t happen as predictably? Would making the islands “taller” but not “rounder” fix that problem at all?

Any advice/thoughts are appreciated, please let me know if I’m totally wrong on something I’m not a meteorologist


1 Answer 1


I think it's hard to tell based only on some a priori considerations: climate is a very complex system, full of feedback and feedforward loops which make evaluation and modeling very hard.

The only consideration that such phenomena are not widespread on the planet but peculiar of very specific places seems to be hinting that they happen only when all the parameters involved settle around a sweet spot in the parameter space, with any alteration leading to the impossibility of the phenomenon to happen.

The only way to answer your question would probably be creating a model, insert all the parameters and run multiple simulations to evaluate how the weather would behave.

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    $\begingroup$ The corollary to this is that proving that your scaled-up Tiwi is wrong is Really Hard and as such the odds of someone bothering to check is slim to none. Unless you get really rich and famous to the point where someone can be bothered to do the hard work and find out you are in fact wrong, in which case you can comfort yourself for your errors by sleeping on a bed stuffed with banknotes. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 21, 2022 at 12:44

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