STORM CHASING 2015-2016

The BoM had forecast gusty thunderstorms, possibly severe and they were pretty much bang on. To address the hype about supercells today, a number of regional and metro news outlets, in their perpetual quest to peddle fear and sensationalism, wrote articles reflecting the forecast of a single unqualified weather enthusiast. Consequently, this created much excitement and concern, as widespread media coverage usually does. The one or two news gatherers who actually chose to speak to the weather Bureau were told that supercells were indeed possible. However, the term "supercell" was not used in any BoM forecast.

Once a news story gathers momentum, it can take on a life of its own and give it a weight and credibility which it doesn't deserve. My recommendation is always to go with the Bureau's forecast. While the BoM have sometimes failed with their warnings, their forecasts are usually pretty accurate - moreso than what the public gives them credit for.

Anyway, back to business. My own thoughts on the weather was that a huge upper low over NSW would create great upper level speed shear (which is what got everyone excited), but not much turning or directional shear. Strong upper level W winds combined with good NE inflow is a potent combination, but that just didn't exist today. Surface winds were NW to N at best, so my thought was that supercells were much less likely than straight line winds. There was plenty of moisture and instability but morning cloud cover also inhibited today's potential.

Choosing a target was tricky as the possible affected area was widespread. I ended up playing it cautiously and leaving late, which turned out to be a blessing. In hindsight I'm glad I didn't get stuck on the W side of the range as the strong shear meant fast-moving storms.

Around Marburg was firing up at 1:30pm as the storm hit the troposphere and anvilled out:

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This cell developed as it tracked ESE near Harrisville:

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This turned out to be the entrée with main course on its way. I headed to Warrill View for a better look as the larger storm approached:

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Mount Walker in the distance was quicky overtaken and obscured by the rain core:

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It was only at this point that I realised how fast this thing was moving so I had to get out of there. I sped off to the SE with the storm hot on my heels:

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I needed to be further SE as this speedy cell nipped at my heels but I was running out of options. Arriving at Boonah I could continue S onto Maroon and Rathdowney and into the horribly treed border ranges where more storms to the SW were approaching, or steer N to the Boonah-Beaudesert Rd turn-off and E to Beaudesert. I didn't fancy the hills at all so I chose Beaudesert, knowing the storm would outrun me.

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The storm whacked me before I even got to the Beaudesert turn-off:

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Fast-moving storms are always difficult to outrun (and this one was doing 80-100kmh), but the upside is they pass more quickly. I stopped at the hill just N of the Boonah-Beaudesert Rd turn-off and waited it out for just a few mins before the rain had almost stopped.

Activity continued to the SE as condensation formed over the hills:

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To the SW, another roll cloud formed on the leading edge:

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It appeared nothing else was to come so I headed home, surprised at how quickly everything was said and done. I even managed to get home before the start of the T20 cricket :)