Category Archives: Lightning

Lightning and storms

Kyogle to Beaudesert Supercell – Lightning hits tree

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lightning hits a tree

Supercell - Lightning hits tree

Lightning hits tree. This is a longer version of the 3rd December 2016 Kyogle to Beaudesert Supercell. It was requested to me to provide a full account of the supercell from NSW through to Queensland. So I have put together a more in depth account of the chase beginning from Kyogle and on to areas north of Kyogle. Finally a better edit of the intense phase in Queensland from over the border through to Rathdowney where giant hail was reported. Next a lightning fest on approach to Beaudesert.

lightning hits a tree

lightning hits a tree

lightning hit a tree near the road 10metres away and then another in the field (which was filmed)! Please enjoy in full screen, HD and sound turned up!

It was a spectacular storm in its large size and very active lightning observed as well as significant hailstones. The storm being slow moving allowed for the relatively rare opportunity to chase in New South Wales and southern Queensland.

Staccato lightning

Staccato lightning

bell shaped updraft supercell

bell shaped updraft supercell

Supercell with very large hail

Supercell with very large hail

Kyogle to Beaudesert supercell 3rd December 2016

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Insane Lightning and Structure

Insane Lightning and Structure

Insane Lightning

Insane Lightning

Some pictures from Kyogle to Beaudesert supercell. I missed the structure that Jason Paterson, James Harris and others got due to twice missing turn-offs which then took me into the hail - giant hail. I still enjoyed the chase because there was so much uncertainty as to the cap breaking and the structure showed textbook organisation! And it broke in spectacular fashion. Lightning was insane and dangerous! You were not safe outside I can assure you! One bolt literally hit a tree 10-20 metres away. Instant canon! Smoke rose briefly after impact! At least two fire balls on the hills the bolts being extremely energetic! Great day and also bringing out the adrenaline. I have not had any giant hail this season so this is the first! That was my target for this chase.
On the way up, after leaving 6am - dropping off the kids to my wonderful mother, drove non-stop up to Grafton, stopped for fuel and a quick meal as I headed north to save time and up the road police came past. He did not stop the car ahead of me - he stopped me! No I was not speeding not doing anything wrong. Ahh breath test. He then says in his American voice - "Can I have your drivers license please" - followed by "is your car registered" - how insulting (just cause my car is peppered with hail dents on every panel and looks like the surface of the moon can you judge me pal (i never told him that). Followed by "Why is your license expired?"
"Expired? I didn't know?"
"Where are you headed?"
"Casino." (Only one road north I guess).
The card said 3rd September 2016. "I will run a background check?" I took a bite of my meat pie but decided to throw it back down... Comes back and says that the expiry date had somehow scratched off the 8 to a 6! 2018. I was off on my way:) Basically drove straight through Casino into the storm.

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Storm Chase and Hailstones 28th and 29th October 2016

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Storm Chase and Hailstones 28th October 2016

After procrastinating as to whether to take the day off and chase, the gamble was taken. It was the day before the main event situation. With cold air aloft (-16C at 500hPa level), hailstorms were likely wherever storms could produce strong updrafts.

Unfortunately, things did not clearly go to plan. Yes storms were anticipated in the Northern Tablelands. However, the North West Slopes and Plains was covered in slow moving mid-level cloud. Only a narrow window of opportunity existed as it cleared.

Just under two hours to get to Coonabarabran, it seemed any promising storms we had targeted had matured and weakened. The only option a right moving storm to the south near and north of Mendooran. Positive move! Storm became strong to severe  in the area as we neared. Multicellular in nature, the new core developed to its south and this passed over us on the road.

Hail covers the road

Hailstones fell in abundance virtually covering  the road. Although most hailstones were of the order of 1.5cm, some seemed to edge to 2cm. Outflow produced a consolidated base to the southeast - the development of a new cell was in place. Zigzagging our way to the south east via Dunedoo, we edged the core and spectacular structures. The storm though was on a downward trend over the next hour. More cells to the south near Bathurst teased an opportunity but also decayed with the lack of heating.

Hailstorms and Structure 29th October 2016

Models indicated a very complex situation and both the GFS and Access-R models seemed to deviate somewhat. It took a couple of hours to analyse the situation and possible scenario that may unfold. Target Lithgow.

After a call from Colin, Rodney and I checked radar and realised storms had already developed - south of Jenolan. Bound for Lithgow, more updrafts developed on the northern flank. On arrival, another weak cell developed near Oberon. The main Jenolan cell rumbled but the activity decreased. It seemed to have crossed the boundary.

The Oberon Cell bound for Lithgow

The Oberon cell intensified indicated by updraft and lightning activity. The south side looked ordinary so we repositioned to its north side. What a sight! Magnificent scenery and a separated base from the hail shafts. Rodney could not hold back his excitement! A bolt pierced down the right side! Inflow flowed into the base. The hail fell in bursts so it was time to reposition.

At the foothill of Hassans Walls, an inflow band connected to the menacing turbulent base. The hail core was inviting. Passing through the Hartley valley was blinding. Hail and torrents of rainfall caused severe run-off. Heading to Lithgow over the range though was astonishing!

First, copious amounts of hailstones fell building on the bonnet, the paddocks and the road! Then further up the road - nothing followed by brief burst of hailstones! Over the range though to Lithgow and it was bone dry! Not a hint of rain let alone hail! A menacing green core above the mountain edge!

Radar showed the core was still to hit the Bells Line of Road - our next target! Looking left I commented to Rodney "There is our next storm !" The storm near Bathurst showed interesting structure - the obvious choice once this cell ventured into the Wollemi National Park. No man's land!

The storm had intensified clearly on radar and had developed an ominous flanking line! Just short of Bell, the hail hit in torrents. Hail to 2.5cm fell for at least 10 minutes. Any calliper hail measurement had to wait until the rain stopped.

Tired and hungry, it was time to head to Lithgow. Unfortunately, just to our east, a car pile up. Emergency vehicles pointed to an accident (a car had rolled over). After a brief stop at Macdonalds, it was back northwest enroute to Cullen Bullen.

The storm near Bathurst looked ordinary with outflow from the core and scud under the base. Suddenly though, a core had developed to its east. Northeasterly inflow had freshened. The base organised rapidly and our repositioning placed us under the developing green base. The hail core further south indicated pea sized hailstones but it seems the main core had just moved east. No man's land once more!

Rodney suggested to head to Pearsans Lookout. Although a few kilometres away, it provided a spectacular view for time-lapse. Further time-lapse opportunities of the back updraft and base presented themselves near Kandos and Rhylstone. Sunset silhouetted on the updraft a spectacular end to a satisfying day!

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