A marginal day with Hunter Valley storms already firing once I had the opportunity to leave. Headed up the freeway and ended up in time for the second round of non-severe though marginally severe storms. The storms seems to not have sufficient energy to really get to the next level.
The storms according to the models were meant to fire late on the Mid North Coast and the first severe warned storm did make to just south of Port Macquarie. The second round of storms fired in the region near Maitland to its north and near Cessnock to its south.
Supercell Outbreak Darling Downs and NE NSW 26th December 2017
Models had been excited for about a week with the possibility of a supercell outbreak including some intense supercells across SE Qld and North West Slopes and Plains. The instability was in place together with a likely dryline further west. The convergence of boundaries and this dryline coupled with favourable shear profiles produced ideal conditions for supercells.
The cap held down throughout the afternoon and eventually the storms exploded first in NSW and then in SE Qld. Three isolated supercells developed across the Darling Downs allowing for sufficient space for energy. One particular supercell produced hailstones to 11cm in diameter!
Unfortunately, we made a wrong move and took bad road options although we slavaged a chase with a storm coming to and across the border of NSW to Queensland. This was to be the 3rd supercell in a line from the northern intense supercell. Although it seems a wall cloud was in view in specific phases, it was not sustained and then outflow dominated any attempt to organise. Updrafts can be clearly seen to rotate. Lightning was pretty intense in some of the phases particularly once the storms punched into the upper atmosphere.
Another storm intercepted briefly on the way amongst a break in the rain near Inglewood.
Structured Storms approaches Broke 18th December 2017
Another day of high CAPE – another day of hope. However, there was a cap to overcome. The atmosphere did heat up and it became apparent that moisture was persisting in the Wollemi. With Nick Moir and Rodney accompanying me on the chase, we were joined by John Scerri (although he had to bail out after a short chase).
Storms were slowly developing near Colo Heights initially though struggling. Another cell had initiated near Putty. This soon began to explode and we gave chase: we virtually circumnavigated the cell.
On the northern side, we enjoyed a spectacular anvil and tall updraft. Unfortunately, after it was time-lapsed, the storm began to weaken. And in simultaneous fashion, an updraft, a powerful updraft, exploded into view to it’s left. I was confused, wandering how we had gone all the way up the Putty and not even notice this cell. I guess that’s what we define – explosive!
It wasn’t long before we were en route to Broke. However, we simply had not choice but to stop, film and photograph! This atmospheric accident was not something I had anticipated. The structure was ridiculous! Powerful towers with laminar bands. On radar, the storm had produced a couplet and also veered left of the typical storm directional flow.
The storm transitioned into a couple of updraft and gradually it weakened. More storms developed along the Putty Road and we gave chase, but it seemed most of the energy had been utilised.
After this, we decided to head home for a meal – long day out! Why not take one last look at lightning! A few shots and I called it quits. I didn’t realise that the shot of one bolts was quite spectacular!
Weather 128 radar of the cells in question – we were on the northern most point