STORM CHASING 2005-2006

Travelled today: 288kms | Travelled so far: 840kms | Allowance: 800kms

Received some light rain in Darwin around 3:45pm. Went down to the wharves for a better look. The cell producing the light rain died but a new one was building behind it and moving NW.

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We drove to Lee Point to try and meet it. It was already north over the water and dying anyway, when Jeff spotted the very rare Roo cloud ;)

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A new cell was building to our SW. It produced some nice pileus caps when we arrived back near the wharves on the Esplanade for a better view.

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Palm trees on the Esplanade were either deliberately burned or possibly struck by lightning.

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It's interesting to note that the tops and bases of the trees are burnt but not the middle section of the trunk. A nearby tree was also singed.

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Yet another cell was building to our south so we headed back to the wharf. The main section of this cloud seem to drifting in the opposite direction to the movement of the cell suggesting some kind of rotation, though it was not yet dumping any rain. Soon rain started to fall from the top of the anvil and we watched it as it drifted SW away from us releasing a few forks (the first for the day) with some lovely thunder.

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A lovely rain curtain over the bay was being interupted sporadically by forks of lightning, when we noticed a new cell developing inland to the SSE and wondered whether it was worth chasing.

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The activity near us seemed to be weakening and moving out to see anyway so we figured we had nothing to lose. We drove down the Channel Island Rd and watched the anvil of the previous cell spread itself across the tropopause, whilst keeping an eye on our new target.

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We got back onto the Stuart Hwy and turned off at Elizabeth Valley Rd just past the Arnhem Hwy turnoff and watched a terrific light show as the sky darkened.

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A new line of cells had also now developed to our SW and was giving off some lightning. These storms were now being lit by a rising full moon. The cells were extremely slow moving but the SW cells seemed to be firing more. With the scrappy cloud starting to obscure our view we decided to try and get closer so we pushed further south down the highway. At this point we noticed our petrol guage was not too far from empty. At almost 10pm, the chance of finding an open service station in any of the few small towns along the highway was slim. Unfortunately, this situation controlled the rest of our chase and we didn't drive too much further.

This series of photos is shot using the same lens angle showing how the cell exploded.

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The lightning eventually slowed down saving us the pain of not being able to follow, due to lack of fuel. We headed back towards Darwin, hoping like mad that we wouldn't run out of petrol on the way. Thankfully, we found some around Palmerston and by then the storms had well and truly died.