Wednesday 29th of November
Chase Duration: 8 hours
Chase Distance: 400km
Report By: David Findlay
Other Chaser's Reports:
Weatherzone Briefing Room Thread
Weatherzone Breaking Weather Thread
For the previous two days large cells with lots of lightning had been developing each afternoon the Northern Rivers of NSW. After completing work on Wednesday at around 1pm I decided to go for a chase in that area. Shear was not all that good, but the instability was quite strong. A trough line was acting as a trigger in the area to produce severe thunderstorms. I headed down the Pacific Motorway, crossing the border not long after 2:30pm. Still couldn't see anything but smoke haze at this stage. I didn't see anything till I reached Ballina.
Radar indicated development on the ranges and I initially decided to head towards Grafton to intercept a storm heading that way. I could now just make out anvil cloud to the west and south. However just south of Broadwater I saw a large isolated cell north of the anvils to my northwest. It had a strong looking anvil, updrafts and a nice overshoot. I decided to head for Lismore. It soon became apparent that this cell was a long long way away, it turned out to be near Boonah. Arriving near Lismore I had a good view of the updrafts in this cell. To my southwest another larger cell which turned out to be a supercell, was headed my way. I decided to hang around for this one. Radar reports indicated it wasn't all that strong on radar, but was quite large and moving quickly north east.
I didn't see much lightning as the cell approached, but strong winds started blowing out from it. I headed to Ballina then up the Pacific Motorway trying to stay just in front of it. Passing through Ballina it had winds of up to an estimated 80km/h where I was, and it was kicking up lots of dust. Around this time I also realised my UHF CB radio had died, as I'd heard nothing on it for the past hour and radio checks failed. This was a bit of an annoyance. North of Ballina big thick CG's started dropping down all around me. I stopped in several spots to get video but it was always hard to be pointing the right direction. Despite it still being a bit light, the CG's were brightening the whole scene every few seconds at times. It was raining a bit, so I couldn't stop to use the tripod and try to get stills.
For the next half an hour I continued north just keeping at the front of the storm. The lightning was still flashing all around me. By the time I reached Sleepy Hollow Rest Area, I was out of the rain area so decided to stop and try my luck with some stills, but it caught up with me too soon. Still managed to see some incredible strikes. Radar reports from Mark Le Gros indicated it was going to continue heading up the coast to Coolangatta and it was now black on radar. This ended my thoughts of sitting at Potsville and waiting for it to go over me and out to sea. So I continued across the border. As I reached the border the heavy rain finally reached me. For a few minutes I could barely see out the windscreen and couldn't see line markings on the road. I got out of that and headed to a park just north of Coolangatta Airport to watch it again. There were still big thick CG's dropping all around in the hills above Coolangatta and on the coast. The heavy rain again reached my location so I headed north again. Just as I was getting back on the Gold Coast Highway, a large strike was followed by a green glow for some seconds and all the power in the area going out.
As I headed up the Pacific Motorway again the rain got even heavier, and there was the occasional tink of hail stones. Once out of the rain I headed back to the coast at Burleigh. It became clear that the cell had now weakened as there was no where near as much precipitation to my south. There was a lot of lightning, but it was mostly wrapped in rain. I took some stills for a while in hopes of something big, but it didn't come. Shortly after I arrived though cells popped up to my north on the outflow boundary from the dying supercell. These were in the Cleveland and Stradbroke Island areas. They produced some nice lightning but it didn't last long. I decided to head for home as the cells all died down.
The cell that I had been in for over an hour was a supercell that had developed near Glen Innes, before passing through the Casino and Kyogle areas and eventually crossing the coast at Tugun. I didn't see any features that would indicate it to be a supercell but other chasers in the area did. It was another big chaser convergence in the Northern Rivers, although this time I didn't run into any of the others. All in all a very exciting and fun chase!