STORM CHASING 2012-2013

The prospect for storms today was reasonable for the Darling Downs. By late morning, a squall line was already powering through NE NSW. The main area of instability in Qld was through the western Darling Downs so I considered not bothering. With nothing better to do however, I took off probably a bit later than I should've around 2pm.

The recent ex-tropical cyclone Oswald had produced devastating floods through many parts of Queensland which included the south east. Many roads were still closed. Chasing storms without closed roads can be tricky. With roads closed the situation could get dangerous without being fully aware of where those closures are. Also, being caught by any storms introduced the possibility of flash flooding, made even more likely by the already saturated soil.

Evidence of the floods was obvious near Frazerview:

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Like many other parts of Queensland, road upgrades at Cunningham's gap were barely complete before more landslides this week.

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Muddy brown grass betrayed flooding of the Condamine River in the middle of Warwick:

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First view of the squall line from about 20kms W of Warwick:

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To the first view of the guster underneath near Cobba-da-mana, 10kms E of Inglewood:

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I finally stopped at Cobba-da-mana for a decent view of the line:

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After just arriving from a long drive from Brisbane, it was time to turn around and stay ahead of this line. At Gore:

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From near Karara as mid and upper level striations became more prominent:

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Lightning was now becoming evident but views around this area were very hard to come by. I stopped near Thane, 30kms W of Warwick:

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Things then got hairy as I proceeded to stay ahead of the line. I followed the GPS which attempted to take me through Warwick, but avoiding the CBD. A nice idea but I came across a sign saying the road ahead was closed. I continued on anyway in case the sign was wrong, turned into the street I needed and a yellow sign sat in the middle of the road saying the road ahead was flooded. I couldn't see the water from here as it was now quite dark and I toyed with the idea of proceeding so I could see it for myself and get a photo. I ultimately decided not to and turned back around to take the main road through town.

This is where the rain caught me. I didn't think much of it at first as I've driven through heavy rain many times and find it more annoying than anything as the reduced speed means it takes longer to get back ahead of the storm. However, the rain this time was extremely heavy reducing visibility to virtually zero many times. The saturated ground made flash flooding much more likely and the danger of being caught in it was now very real.

I of course considered pulling over and waiting it out, but I also knew that being ahead of the line would be safer without any risk of flash flooding.

I pushed on slowly through some of the most treacherous driving I've been through. I passed a 4WD which had slipped off the road into an embankment. It was pointless stopping to try and help as the conditions were terrible. I passed many cars with high beams on and the drivers refusing to dip their lights. Very frustrating. One car coming in the opposite direction flashed his high beams off, then on again. Then he indicated right. I checked my high beams which were off. Was he warning me of flooding or an accident ahead? I pulled over considering my next move. I pulled back out and tentatively continued on anyway. I have no idea what that show was about as there was no flooding or accident ahead.

I trudged on telling myself that I'd soon be in front again. The squall line was actually very narrow and I was really surprised how long this was taking. The line was obviously moving faster than I thought and I was basically driving along with it. But I really wanted to be ahead of it! The car slipped a couple of times as water came over the bonnet and windscreen bringing my visibility down to zero for a scary second or so.

I finally outran the storm just before Cunningham's Gap. Thirty kilometres of driving in these horrid conditions and I was relieved to be out of it. I also knew it would be hot on my heels so I continued at speed.

The line was still lightning active so I finally stopped near Aratula in the hope of some forks.

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The lightning was being shy and realising now that this thing was moving faster than I thought, I took off again. I considered Beaudesert, stopping again near Boonah for another look:

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Still no forks when the outflow hit. If I thought there was a hope of seeing some decent lightning, I would've headed for Beaudesert. Without this hope, however, I took off N up the Ipswich-Boonah Rd. The radar showed a kink in the north-south line giving me time to head N before turning E at Ipswich towards Brisbane.

I'd almost given up on this storm, stopping one more time at Purga.

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It caught me again briefly a couple of times on my way home and I finally arrived around 10:30pm just before the heavy rain started. I watched again for a little which but I still did not see a single lightning fork today. Very bizarre.