Outer South West Sydney Storm chase and lightning show 9/1/2015

Friday afternoon 9/1/2015, I was fortunate enough to be able to undertake another storm chase across outer south west Sydney.

Earlier that day, I had to have the car serviced being the 30,000 km service however I must thank Phil Gilbert Toyota at Lidcombe for giving some priority to my vehicle which enabled me to commence the chase by 1.30 pm. That allowed me to be approaching Penrith on the M4 Motorway near 2 pm.

This storm chase was highly successful and it was one chase I enjoyed by myself. While it was a local chase, it was highly rewarding with many photos taken due to such good contrasts at times.

Near 1 pm, three small cumulonimbus towers or cloud cells were observed to the far west from Auburn. They were relatively isolated in nature but none had properly matured. As soon as I received my car, I headed west to work out which cloud cell I should target.

I soon discovered that the northern cell was struggling to organize a little, the southern cell was also struggling while the central cell began to dominate the region. I Selected the middle cell. This cell became the focus for my photography and I finished up taking 35 minutes of video when it became lightning active. The cell developed across the Blue Mountains and moved south east close to me where it intensified and produced many cloud to ground lightning strikes. This cell had a relatively long life and continued to develop new updrafts including another base further west.

At the same time, the northern cell began to redevelop again after struggling for a while. This cell eventually passed over Western Sydney and intensified significantly as it passed over the Blacktown Region. I discovered later that evening the following rainfall figures which are impressive:-

Blacktown Dog Pound - 66 mm.
Seven Hills (2WS FM radio station) - 48 mm.
Prospect Reservoir - 45 mm.
Greystanes - 32 mm.
Blacktown City - 26 mm.

A friend later advised me of a significant rainfall event at Blacktown but no hail observed. I also discovered that a power failure had occurred because I had to reset my electric clock.

This cell reached it peak in this area then appeared to have gone into rapid decline thereafter. I let this storm cell go. As soon as I had enough taking photos and film of the cell to my immediate west which was showing signs of weakening, I packed up and drove south to investigate a cloud tower that was rapidly taking shape towards Camden.

This cell became a new storm at Camden. I drove into Oran Park to watch this storm. I was lucky to be in the right place at the right time to watch a small storm mature with spectacular results and wonderful contrasts. The storm became rather strong further east and I could see hail shafts falling and even distant evidence of strong winds at ground level (Possible microburst or downburst). I witnessed a spectacular lightning strike and as soon as I brought out my video camera, I managed to capture a few of the strikes that were occurring.

I followed this storm south of Camden and towards Picton where a third storm developed with wonderful contrasts and updrafts close by. At one stage, I was stunned to look up and see what appeared to be a possible funnel cloud attached to a developing cumulus cloud / updraft tower. I managed to take 2 photos before it disappeared.

This storm continued to produce updraft towers until near evening when it became obvious that allot of cloud that had built up over the southern Tablelands began to affect the storms structure. I decided to concluded this chase at this point. It appeared the storm started to weaken thereafter.

I drove back to Windsor along the Northern Road where I intercepted a fourth storm of the day which was much weaker. This concluded the chase for the day. I will post the photos separately.

Comments

comments

  • Harley Pearman

    The first two photos shows the storm cell chosen for the afternoon. This was the dominant cell of the three that had developed. Updraft towers and a base are visible. I am looking north west.

  • Harley Pearman

    At the same time, the northern cell was struggling. I noted a separate small cell as shown to the north east but this cell struggled to do anything of significance. It did produce some contrasts to the sky. I did not chase the cells shown.

  • Harley Pearman

    Another image of my chosen storm.

  • Harley Pearman

    The new Camden storm had its genesis from this cloud tower. I am at Luddenham watching this cloud rapidly develop. I considered it to be worthy of chasing it due to its behaviour.

  • Harley Pearman

    At Oran Park, I was stunned to see such a base like this with great contrast. The base was narrow having a north to south axis. A narrow column of rain was visible to the east soon after.

    A powerful lightning strike nearby shortly after indicated that I had made the right decision to chase that cloud tower seen in the photos above. The development was so rapid and the base interesting.

  • Harley Pearman

    The storm shortly after just to the south east with a column of rain and possibly hail falling from it. This provided high contrast to the locality.

  • Harley Pearman

    Later, I drove further south to near Picton for the photos shown. I provide the photo of the possible funnel. This was seen from a developing cumulus cloud. I managed to take two photos of this before it disappeared.

    The third storm displays wonderful updraft towers. By this stage, it was within an area that I could not get to or if I could, it would have been obscured by trees and hills. As I was on a hilltop, I decided not to try and chase it because I had great views of it where I was. This cell became entrained with other general cloud that was building up and after 30 minutes or so, the structure was lost for good. I drove back to Windsor.

  • Harley Pearman

    I now attache some images of the lightning strikes captured during this event.

  • Harley Pearman

    The final ones I wish to post.

  • Harley Pearman

    In concluding this chase and a storm chase amusing moment, I decided to buy a pizza at Windsor Pizza. While it was busy, I was advised that it would take 20 minutes or so. Some 50 minutes later, I began to wonder why my pizza had not arrived.

    I ordered a small pizza. It was discovered that my order was lost and the staff regretted this. I was given a family sized pizza and I did not have to pay extra and given a refund of $10 on what I had paid earlier plus free garlic bread that I never ordered. That proved too much but it was a lovely token and gesture for the error made. That ended the successful chase for the day and I returned home.

  • Con Marathos

    In depth report there Harley with some good lightning shots, In relation to the storm that hit the Blacktown area, I woke up at around 4pm to see some wonderful structure from the eastern side of that cell. A wall cloud quickly developed revealing some nice striations . No video was taken but the striations did reveal the presence of rotation. It was quite a short lived wall cloud which included many cloud to ground strikes. The wall cloud was pushed aside as the RFB advanced over the Blacktown area. Some green age could be seen . however as Harley mentioned, no reports of hail.

  • Con Marathos

    I’ve included two further photos of the wall cloud transitioning to shelf cloud formation as the RFB approached Parramatta. Light rain and the odd cg were encountered as Blacktown took the brunt of the storm’s impact.

  • Con Marathos

    2nd photo of RFB moving in

  • Harley Pearman

    Further to my post, I have re edited my film from this event and discovered previously unseen lightning flashes worthy of presentation to this post. I have never seen these previously. They are all powerful bolts but rapid in duration.

    The two below are a rapid double strike in quick succession.

    This is from the first storm over the Lower Blue Mountains.

  • Harley Pearman

    The next one is a powerful strike west of Mulgoa.

    The last one to conclude is a powerful strike strike over Oran Park in outer South West Sydney (Camden), looking south.

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