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January 19, 2003, stinkin' hot day, stinkin' hot lightning show.










Hello Everyone,
Well did I have some lightning action in the past two days.

Sunday night provided me with about 7 hours of lightning. It was damn hot during the day, got to 44.5 officially, but I went for a drive inland and it was a lot hotter than anywhere around whyalla, must have got to 45 or 46. Went out an hour or so before sundown and parked up on a good hill that has views to the north, west and south. There was heaps of static on the radio but no lightning to be seen. I suspected that there was a lot of weak cc stuff up in the clouds and that it was too bright to see and I would have to wait until it got darker to see it. So all I could do was wait. 

The clouds that were around were nothing special, mostly small cb's, the odd medium cb, they were very, very high based as well (not suprising considering 40+ degree temps and dewpoints at zero degrees or lower), so I didnt have much hope of getting any CG's at all. There was the odd light rain shaft around, the best being out to my north west. 

I watched that cloud for the hour before sunset and it very slowly moved towards whyalla in this time. Near sundown I could see the first unimpressive cc's. The showers had moved probably to about 10km away at this stage. As the storm moved closer one of the rainshafts passed to the south of me towards whyalla and I had a good view of it from the elevated position on the hill. I could see an awesome dust storm blowing in front of the shaft, real squally winds they were. The dust cloud grew as tall as some of the large hills around the area in places and after the main squall had passed all sorts of areas had kick ups of the dust. A couple of minutes later it was my turn for a squall. The dust came flying in with a strong wind from the northwest with a bit of rain. Almost as soon as that had passed a strong wind ripped in form the south east - the direct opposite direction! These squalls and showers went on for some time, quite interesting to watch the dust ripping through isolated little spots. By now the cc's were getting more spectacular and i could actually see the strikes, there was also the odd cg. Waited for the wind to calm off and the spots of rain to disappear and then got the cameras out. Took a few pics, mostly nothing spectacular, but there was a short period with some good cg's which I reckon I had captured. Anyway, this storm dried up (in terms of lightning) and there was nothing but the odd flash out to the west. Decided it would be a good time for a break, so went back into whyalla and had a feed a drink and of course checked the tracker on WZ. 

Went back out had a quick look and there was nothing to be seen except a fair way out to the north west. Looked to be moving south east but was going to miss whyalla by a fair margin. Decided to cut it off at the pass. So I went on my first chase. Drove out to west of whyalla only 25km or so and set up cameras. Saw some spectacular lightning when I was driving out and there was some good lightning for a while after I first set up although still a fair distance away. Didnt take many photos, but did do a couple of long exposures, 2 at 15 mins and 1 at 25 mins. The storm seemed to be moving closer but then all of a sudden died and moved away to the west! All the time I had been out there I noticed clouds building (it was very moonlit) back towards whyalla and the seemed to moving in towards me from the north east. The grew quickly and soon had rain coming out. Since the other storm had died I was praying that these new ones would produce. 

Produce they did, it started off with the odd weak cc and then some good cc's and then what really got my attention was a chunky cg that thumped down about 8k's to the south of me. Packed up and drove to a better vantage point. Tried to take some pics but dont think I got much. A better storm, part of the same line that had built up started to the north of me. Took some pics of that, might have got a bit of interesting stuff, have to wait and see. While I was taking pics of the storm to the north the storm to the south must have got jealous because it spat out some awesome strikes, including a couple of cg's that hit less than 5 km's away. 

At this stage it was 2:30 in the morning and the lightning was starting to die down, since I had to work the next day decided to head home. Got halfway back into whyalla and the storm to the south started producing some exceptional displays, pulled up had a look but couldnt be bothered to take pics. Went home went to bed around 3, there was still flashes shining in my window and I could still hear thunder aswell. 

Overall rating of these storms ok, clouds were poor, rain poor, lightning average but duration was impressive.
As I went to bed on sunday, thought monday would be a good chance provided the trough hadnt passed, which I thought would be possible because of the separate set of activity on the SA - WA border on sunday night.

If I thought sunday was ok well monday was a whole lot better. As mentioned earlier, the day was hot and sticky but looked up at the sky a number of times in the morning and there was nothing. Not even at the end of my lunch which was one o'clock. Walked out the office at 4:15 and just about fell over, big cb to the north.

Got so excited and wanted to get home on net to check what was happening I forgot about picking up a film of sunday's lightning that I had put in. Got about three quarters of the way home, and then remembered, spewin - because my house is in the direct opposite direction to the camera shop, so I would have to wait even longer to get on the net. Anyway fanged down to the shop, picked up film, fanged home, checked radar, tracker, static on the radio. Seemed storms were building but still a way off - though a particularly good section did seem to be heading for us. 

By 5:30 there was a storm brewed up out to the north and one coming in from the south west. Went and parked where I had an open view in almost all directions and waited for the party to start. Radio was going off its dial. Sure enough cg's started dropping from everywhere, all around, it was just cg's everywhere. Most were in the storm to the north and to the south west. Spent most of my time watching the storm to the south west as that was the one that was heading for a direct hit on us. Occaisionally could spy the cloud tops through gaps in the cloud, they were building fast and to a great height. The cloudbases supported this observation as they to were getting lower darker and producing more rain. It was now 6:00 and there was cg's everywhere [as an aside: i cant believe we didnt get a bushfire yesterday] multiple cg's per second all around mostly less than 15km's away, the thunder was a deep rumbling emanating from every direction. The storm to the south west had closed right in. The large hill (mt laura)where I normally go to watch the storms was directly northwest of me. About 7km away. I saw the hilltop get struck about 7 times, including one hit on one of the towers that is on it. Cg's were getting close now and were huge. Some struck only a couple of km's away, one that struck about a km away produced some real strong low frequency thunder, it was shaking my car through the ground. Another few minutes later another one struck only about 500m away, the ground was lit up as though someone with a camera flash was standing on the top of my car and flashing it. This one also produced thunder which shook my car through the ground.

Then the rain came in, not pouring, but heavy all the same, got about 3mm in 8 minutes. The cg's were mostly past now. Still looked impressive as they headed out over the sea. There looked to be another band of storms out to the west, so headed home to hop on net and check what was happening. There was another band. So went back out to a different vantage point. still plenty of action to the east and north (cloud was coming in from south east). Took some dig and film pics. Decided mt laura would be a good place to take some shots from, also noticed lightning brewing in the cloud to sw. got nearly to the top of mt laura and an awesome cc ripped across the sky, not that far above me either, looked wicked in the now sun illuminated rain shaft. Another couple of these cc's occurred. Then on CC went ripping across the sky and hit a highvoltage power pylon that was just down the hill below me only about 300m away. Again the thunder was not overly loud but the deep base sound thudded into my car a rocked it three times. Then that was it, still stayed out on the hill and watched the odd piece of lightning out over towards port pirie and also took a few pics of the sunset, it was one of those sunsets where you get a big red ball sinking down over the horizon.

Rating, cloud good, rain good, lightning top class, duration not long enough! Overall this would go into the top 5 daytime thunderstorms that I have seen. 

Unfortuneately no pics of the lightning, man I wish I had a video camera, captures would have been AWESOME!





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