STORM CHASING 2008-2009

A great setup today which turned into what felt like a really good chase!

If you know me well, you know that I'm reluctant to head out of town to somewhere like Boonah too early for fear of storms either developing elsewhere or not developing at all. I'm afraid I've been on a few too many dud chases to set out on a hope. This is undoubtedly due to my lack of forecasting experience, but driving a few hundred kms for clear skies is never fun.

Even when storms are fully fledged and cruising along nicely around the border, heading out is a risk because the storm could die at any moment, as happened last night.

Today storms had already developed nicely in NE NSW and had crossed the border around 2:30pm. With today's setup and no obvious sign of this thing dying, I decided to head for Boonah again for the second day in a row.

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Sometimes storms can be tricky. Steering winds indicate movement to the NE (implying above that Beaudesert was the ideal destination) but sometimes the core of the storm continually redevelops on it's north-western edge giving it a northerly propagation. This seemed to be the case with the last few radar frames before I left, so I headed for Boonah. Luckily, this turned out to be the perfect spot!

Mammatus visible around Ipswich:

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Once on the magnificent Ipswich-Boonah Rd, the storm came into clear view and I ended up no further than Peak Crossing. A gustfront had already formed and was developing nicely in the distance. Oddly, a rain shaft had also formed AHEAD of the gustfront:

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The tiny rain shaft above turned into rather a large one with what looks to be a rain free base (RFB) ahead of it. An RFB is basically the base of the updraft region for storms that are moving. Precipitation is forced upwards in the updraft and falls behind it. Also, is that a tiny wall cloud forming?

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A wall cloud often indicates rotation in the updraft, which is a sign of a supercell.

This new rainshaft is visible on the radar as a tiny black cell just near Harrisville:

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A panorama shows the gustfront of the main storm to the left with what seems to be a new storm forming ahead of it on the right.

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The tiniest bit of condensation is visible above just ahead of the rainshaft. This tiny bit of condensation would turn into a magnificent guster!

I was totally fascinated to see this new gustfront forming ahead of the old one.

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The radar shows the new section actually merging with the main cell:

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It is one of the greatest storm chasing pleasures to watch one of these approach and develop.

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This north-western edge seemed to be weakening. Unfortunately for me, the north-eastern edge looked to be getting even better and was about to go over my house in Springwood! The roads in this region, not to mention the peak-hour traffic, would've prevented me from ever making it back in time. So instead of driving into the side of the storm just to hit heavy rain, I decided to take the only road north to try and drive alongside it... a rather fortuitous move considering what was happening to NW. At Marburg, I noticed another gustfront from a new cell:

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Unfortunately, despite my efforts I couldn't ahead of it. I ended up just past Fernvale but a cluster of cells had merged and was dumping rain, and a few nice CGs, all over the place.

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With everything now moving NE and me on the SW of it, I figured it was time to head home. A couple of minutes down the road and the setting sun took a peek under the clouds.

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With the fading light, flashes from the storms were becoming more apparent, so I thought I might hang around in the hope it would get dark enough to try for lightning photos.

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New flashes were visible towards the NW so I headed back up to Wivenhoe dam to watch some crawler lightning flicker along what seemed to be a huge line.

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With lightning about, the buzz and crackle from the high tension power lines was a little disconcerting.

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Considering I still don't have radar on the road, I was rapt with how today turned out.