STORM CHASING 2015-2016

Today was a bust if you compare it to most people's expectations. The BoM again went for "storms, possibly severe" and the GFS weather model showed 35kn W @ 500hPa and 20kn NE @ the surface. The actual Brisbane sounding that morning was only good for 20kn @ 500hPa but hopes were pegged on the timing of a southerly change which contributed to a triple point scenario (winds converging from three different directions creating strong convection). The triple point was over NE NSW early in the day and arrived in Beaudesert around 8pm and Brisbane around 9pm. But unfortunately by then most of our atmosphere was spent from earlier activity.

In other words, the timing of the change was less than ideal for storm lovers.

Surprisingly (to me anyway) I woke to widespread rainfall which would take a while to not only move on but to allow SE Qld to heat up properly if anything exciting was to happen later. This rain did bring some useful moisture though. Consequently, I stayed put for much of the day, heading out about 3pm.

I initially assumed the storms to chase would be around the triple point region, but those who acted on that assumption found a single cell around Kyogle which died before it hit the range. It appears the best structure occurred briefly over Toowoomba from a developing line tracking from the W. To be fair the triple point did bring fresh but non-severe activity later in the evening.

I left home a bit too late. The radar around Toowoomba was stonking at around 4pm but I didn't get a proper view until I arrived around Plainland at 4:45pm:

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I continued on anyway stopping around Laidley as the activity came off the range, the best of it heading NE into no man's land around Murphys Creek and Ravensbourne. Still saw some half decent lightning though:

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The dramas with my lightning trigger continue. The first of the above lightning photos was taken without the trigger as soon as I got out of the car. I was composing through the viewfinder when it happened and I just pressed the shutter button. After the trigger was attached, it picked up a few very weak more distant bolts. Then as I was recomposing with my finger on the shutter button, the second big lightning above occurred and again I hit the button manually. All subsequent lightning shots today were captured without the trigger.

The rain soon arrived and it didn't look like much else was happening apart from some crawlers from this system which continued NE and was turning into more widespread thundery rain. I called it a day at this point and thought I might actually get to see my wife Michelle before she hit the hay.

As the sun approached the horizon it threw an intense orange through the misty sky so I ducked up to Glamorgan Vale in the hope of sunset bolts. Not too many bolts but there were a few nice crawlers:

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Things didn't improve so I started home when the southerly change finally triggered activity in a line to the S from Oakington to Nimbin in NSW. Lightning was infrequent but I headed S down the Cunningham Hwy in the hope it would improve. It never really did despite an impressively turbulent RFB (rain free base) at Beaudesert:

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This was apparently the triple point everyone was talking about but much of the instability in the atmosphere was already spent. Lighting was very infrequent and mostly to the SE heading over the Gold Coast so I started heading home again. And again I got about 15 mins away when I noticed a red bit on the radar pop up close by near Cedar Grove. No lightning from it yet, but I wanted to be ready if it did spring a surprise CG (cloud to ground lightning bolt) or two.

It started with mostly intra-cloud lightning to the W as condensation hugged the hills separating the Scenic Rim and Lockyer Valley.

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Then finally a CG!

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Unfortunately, it was the only one with just a few crawlers left in its arsenal:

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This new activity is evident on radar as part of the SE line caused by the southerly change. However, lightning was very infrequent so I gave up and attempted yet another trip home. I actually succeeded this time as rain fell along with a few more surprise CGs:

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Not as exciting as most people expected but such is the case sometimes where the models promise much and nature delivers comparitively little.

Although, I reckon we would do well to ignore the hype and simply enjoy what nature offers :)