STORM CHASING 2006-2007

A lot was promised by the models today, and while Brisbane did get a couple of nasty cells, they cleared off relatively early and left a storm-free afternoon. As far as I could see, the models forecast most of the activity on the northside, but the southside received a few storms while the north got nothing.

The first cell came through Brisbane around 1pm. I was in Springwood where there were no structural features to the storm, but I did get a few ripper lightning bolts landing close by, a couple of which I managed to catch on film.

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It's difficult to see in the above thumbnail (click for larger version), but there is a feint bolt through the middle.

Photographing lightning during the day is difficult because it's a matter of pressing the shutter button as soon as you see the lightning, which usually means you miss it. One of my secret aims with photographing lightning is to catch the point where it contacts the ground - not an easy task. Well, today was my lucky day. This strike was less than half a km away and it struck a billboard which was visible from my spot at Arndale Shopping Centre in Springwood. And as you can imagine, it was LOUD!

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Take a close look at where the bolt was in the second photo above. It was taken a fraction of a second after the first shot. The remnants of the lightning bolt are visible as what looks like glowing plasma balls (known as bead lightning) as some sections of the strike fade quicker than others! Here's a zoom of both images:

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Very excited to have caught this!

UPDATE Tue 5 Dec 2006: Upon closer inspection of the above photos and of the site itself, I've since discovered this lightning strike landed a lot CLOSER than originally thought - less than 50 metres away! And rather than a billboard, it struck an air conditioning unit on the roof of the same shopping centre I was standing on! Luckily, I was undercover.

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Judging by the lightning photo, it appears to have hit the left handrail of the metal ladder.

Whenever I go back up to that rooftop, the closeness of that air con unit sends a chill down my spine!

The next morning, I had a chat about the experience with the Cage breakfast show on Triple M.

My partner Michelle was working in Murarrie near the southern end of the Gateway Bridge and she saw a lovely gustfront from the more severe north end of this same storm. These are her pics:

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She then got very heavy rain and up to 2cm hail.

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The following are short video clips shot by Michelle:

I was convinced that the northside or the Sunshine Coast was due for something so I made the slow drive up there to be ready for whatever might happen. Thanks to Drewy for the radar updates, but unfortunately more cells were heading for the southside! Very frustrating, as I was getting nothing up here.

I got as far as Deception Bay Rd, Burpengary and gave up. I moved across to Redcliffe and saw the cell down south which was crossing the Gold Coast.

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I decided to make the long drive back south knowing it would be during Brisbane's ridiculous peak hour traffic on the Gateway Mwy. But something was continually feeding the cell, and I thought I'd probably see more if I at least headed back towards it. Some pileus during the drive was nice:

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Two overturned trucks within a kilometre of each other on the Gateway Mwy northbound was not so nice. Traffic northbound was horrendous, but even southbound we were banked up for kilometres despite the fact that our side of the freeway was clear.

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When I got back to Springwood, the Gold Coast cell seemed to be heading well out to sea, so I took one last shot before bidding it farewell.

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I was hoping some stuff might fire up after dark as the models suggested, but it didn't happen.