Today was a bit of a weird one in that poor moisture prevented a huge level of instability from being utilised. Then during the night, that moisture was delivered by a weak southerly change which produced a ripper of a storm over the ranges and into the Lockyer Valley producing an incredible lightning display.
A bunch of very solid congestus continually popped up during the arvo and while some produced some rain and occassional lightning, none really took off. One cell at Warwick had its anvil blown a long way E.
Rain then appeared on radar near Darlington so I took off.
Low moisture and high temps today meant high cloud bases. Any storms that did take off would produce spectacular lightning. I couldn't see the bases of the Darlington cells, which made them look taller. When I came over the final rise towards Beaudesert I was shocked to find these high bases had made these cells appear much weaker. It felt like a waste of time proceeding, but with nowhere else to go - and the hope of it improving - I continued to Darlington for when ended up being a small puffy cloud.
With nothing hopeful remaining in the sky I headed home dejected.
Later on at about 9:30pm some fresh cells emerged near Kilcoy looking very healthy. I could see regular lightning flashes from our home in Mundoolun but it was too far to chase, considering they were heading away from me. So I took a photo of the stars instead.
A few other cells also popped up around the place but it wasn't until a black core appeared near Warwick that I decided to head out. On my way another storm became lightning active in the no man's land between Peak Crossing and Greenbank.
Meanwhile, the Warwick cell was beefing up and becoming very lightning active. With no N access until Boonah, if I wanted to get near this storm I would need to leave now. The cell was producing a black core on radar and shifting N, both signs of severity. I expected rain well before Boonah but the storm's left turn spared me of the heavy stuff until I nabbed a couple of big CGs. The following two shots are with a 10mm lens (1.6x sensor) with an aperture of F10 which hopefully gives you an idea of how close and how huge these bolts were.
As the rain got heavier I considered pulling a brolly out when a bolt landed probably 50m away. The flash and bang were instantaneous, I could see the orange glow of a tree being smacked, noticed the beading effect of the lightning's dissipation, and I physically cowered, which doesn't happen often.
I opted to pack up instead.
Safely inside the car I hoped for something else close by.
When the lightning moved on, I slowly meandered back towards Beaudesert shooting still photos through the window.