STORM CHASING 2015-2016

Another brilliant day in the sunshine state with gusty storms througout the eastern Downs producing colourful cells on dusk and some cracker lightning bolts over Fernvale after dark.

I left as soon as I'd finished processing around 2pm and cells were already appearing NW and SW of Inglewood. It was 4pm before I got close, starting with some healthy mammatus pushing ahead over Allora.

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I properly intercepted at Talgai, just W of Allora:

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I ducked up to Clifton where the storm seemed to be gusting out but the winds were pretty strong:

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Staying ahead of this storm was a challenge as it was moving fast. I stopped again around Nobby where dust was being blown out and sucked in by the strong winds:

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Things got tricky here as the storm approached the range and I had to choose whether take the forested Gatton-Clifton Rd down the range (taking me S a bit into the storm), head up to Toowoomba and E down the main highway, or stick around and hope for the flanking line to develop NW of this storm. I couldn't decide so I drove around confused instead, stopping near Cambooya as it headed over the range:

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The western edge wasn't intensifying as I'd hoped and with a black core over Mulgowie I decided to head for Gatton, realising I'd left it way too late.

It seems the plumbing still needs fixing in Toowoomba. Has this town never heard of storm water drains?

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Meandering like a snail through the slowest town in the country I realised proper that my Gatton objective was futile. With beautiful sunset colours emerging I swung a right down the New England Hwy and pulled over at the lookout at Hodgson Vale and enjoyed the sunset lightning as the storm continued over the range:

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A couple of new smaller cells appeared over Toowoomba also heading ENE:

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I ducked W for a better view of the N storm:

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With nothing else happening locally and everything moving E, I finally decided to follow it down the range. I just hoped I could position myself for a good light show.

With the main storms well E, some new cells appeared behind them just to my S so I stopped at Helidon:

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Lightning was either intra-cloud or too distant for photos, and with rain becoming more widespread I pretty much called it a night. I headed E into the rain core where bolts were dropping around me. There was little I could do to capture them, expect maybe shoot from the dash:

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I stopped at a residential estate in Hatton Vale where I'd seen some decent bolts but didn't manage to catch any so I continued E.

The rain had eased where I was. The radar showed it had morphed into a long W-E line. I thought twice about it but settled on heading N up the Brisbane Valley Hwy to see if I could actually get well out of the rain for some good lightning.

I stopped at a spot S of Fernvale where the lightning did actually start to improve.

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The rain slowly arrived so I pushed on to just S of Wivenhoe dam:

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There was still quite a bit of intra cloud lightning, so I upped the ISO and opened the aperture for a structure photo only for a huge bright branchy CG to say hello:

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There had been nothing like this bolt for ages, then as soon as I set the camera for weak intra-cloud lightning... typical. Needless to say, I whipped the camera back to ISO 100 and F7.1 faster than I'd ever done.

I expected the lightning to cease completely now that I was ready, but I'm happy to report the bolts only improved. These are all single exposures:

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The previous photo made it onto the Today Show on Channel Nine (without permission or credit):

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Rain started to fall again so I continued NW to the dam:

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Another quick trot NW to Wivenhoe Hill:

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Wivenhoe Hill has a couple of roads that go down to the water, but it turns out they're day use areas and closed at night. The NW road showed evidence of the black core that came through earlier with large branches down:

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Much of this road was littered with tree debris so I turned around and stopped one more time just N of Fernvale for the storm's final death throes:

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It's been a mad couple of days with 646kms clocked up on yesterday's nearly 11-hour chase, and nine and a half hours over 508kms today.