STORM CHASING 2012-2013

There weren't too many chasers out today, which surprised me. The forecast for storms wasn't brilliant but personally, I had a more satisfying chase than I would end up having tomorrow where the models were better.

The initial target was around Warwick, which worked out well. There was a very high fire danger today and after driving through a fire started by a lightning strike on a recent chase, the danger seemed very real. There were plenty of smoke plumes around the place, with a relatively close fire in Springfield.

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Here's the view of the first cell springing up NE of Stanthorpe from near Maryvale:

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I continued on to just S of Warwick.

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As the storm approached Allora, it started developing very nicely.

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The outflow of this main storm seemed to trigger a couple of fresh updrafts ahead of it:

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The structure seemed to be weakening at this point but the thunder continued. Here's the view just S of Pittsworth:

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As nightfall drew closer, I tried to stay on the NW edge of the storm as it continued northwards. Most of the CGs (cloud to ground lightning) were landing just on the western edge of the leading part of the storm so that's where I followed.

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A fellow chaser and landscape photographer Phil Rettke also happened to shoot the above lightning bolt from a nearby location. I decided to place the two images together to produce what is possibly the first ever 3D stereoscopic image of lightning:

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You can find more on stereoscopy here. Meanwhile, the lovely lightning continued near Pittsworth.

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Then one massive bolt landed within a couple of hundred metres. It was most likely a positive stroke which emanates from the top of the storm cloud to ground, rather than from the bottom of the cloud. It's size and protrudence through the front of the rain free base (RFB), unlike all the other bolts which were landing at the edge of the rain curtain, seemed to support this. Unfortunately, it landed out of frame but I did catch an offshoot. Very close lightning seems much more stark and "sharp", if that makes sense.

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Meanwhile, more activity had sprung up W near Millmeran and S towards Inglewood.

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These multiple cells formed a bit of a U shape as they approached, making it tricky to avoid the rain. I managed to sit inside this U-shape for a while as the lightning continued.

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These storms were weakening but the lightning wasn't quite done yet.

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Just as these guys were in their death throes, more flashes became visible to the S and W. I probably should've called it a night, but the lightning sucked me in to driving to Inglewood. On the way, 10kms N of Inglewood, I saw some evidence of strong winds from the storms that I'd just photographed. I'm glad I wasn't stuck in this forest when it came through.

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I arrived at Inglewood around 10:50pm to persistant light rain which made lightning photography tricky, but it wasn't a complete waste of time. It was very dark out here, accentuating the brightness of the lightning. One particular overhead crawler sent a very audible one second ZAP through the power lines.. freaky stuff.

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I didn't mind coming out this far because more storms were forecast tomorrow and it would be great to start the chase from here. But as midnight approached and the lightning slowed I faced the choice of whether to slum it in the car or wake some poor motel operator. I opted for the latter and was super thankful for his hospitality and a clean bed. "You want cash or card?" "We'll work it out tomorrow, mate." :)

Here's some video of the chase from Warwick to Pittsworth: