Surface-based thunderstorm event 7 January 2015

An unexpectedly good day storm chasing, the best one for at least a year really.

I had only planned to chase locally if a storm came within close proximity to Clare, but after seeing some strong storms go up near the southern Lofties and develop some rather heavy rain and even some hail I decided it was probably worth the trip out. Given there seemed to be convergence running up the ranges, with storms spreading northwards into fresher air, I headed south down into Mintaro where there were storms developing to three sides of me. It became apparent soon after as the storm to my west headed down off the ranges, that it was developing into a multicell with a bit of a flanking line developing. Given it was running into the convergence area I decided it was the best cell to pursue, which turned out to be a good decision. It was quite amazing how quickly it intensified as it moved down onto the plains, it didn’t look like much coming into Auburn but by the time I was driving down onto the plains it was kicking out a mighty downdraught. No Cg lightning obvious at this point but nice booming thunder.

Just out of Balaklava, the storm becomes severe with angry outflow winds.

It developed further as I headed south of Balaklava and shot out solid rainfoots on both sides, with copious amounts of dust around the place.

Ripping some powerful Cg’s just out from the rainshaft at this stage.

Video capture, to give an idea of the bolts.

Through the car window @ 10mm. Dust being whipped out from strong outflow.

A little later on towards the end of its life. At 10mm, closest downburst only 3km away. Damn this thing was dropping some moisture!

I wanted to punch into the back of the cell, however the road turned into thick mallee and with tree damage already evident and wind blowing strongly it wasn’t worth the risk of having a branch or tree land on the car. It bursted out the back end with quite a white tinge, so in the hope of seeing some hail I pushed east a little into this new area but only found some heavy rain.

My attention was immediately drawn to new cells coming in off the Clare Valley, where home had just received a quick 15mm. New cells formed out ahead and nuked in the clear fresh air pushing out some impressive anvils before combining into somewhat of a line. It certainly didn’t appear as strong as the first cell but drove some torrential rain, probably the heaviest I’ve plus some small hail into Balaklava and surrounds. The rain was so heavy in came in like a fog it was quite remarkable. It went ape with Cg’s from the backend, judging by tracker it was the most lightning active cell of the day. I didn’t immediately notice this as I cruised around Balaklava looking at some of the flooding, but the booms of thunder were constant and I saw some ripper Cg’s as I drove southward.

Boom go the cells.

Forming into a large-ish area of cells. Anvil spreading into a large area. Looked very impressive at this stage.

Large RFB developing (which would end up being the cell I would punch).

RFB starting to dump over Balaklava.


Shed with a bit of a river running around it, drain seems to run right through this property.

CC lightning in the slowly dying southern complex.

Amazing light.

I left the chase here as whilst the southern cells were still nice it was too much of a drive, and with mid level cells getting up near home I headed back. Cells went up around the town at dusk, and after sorting some annoying commitments which delayed my arrival, I headed to a lookout east of Clare and watched quite a nice cell shoot out the occasional Cg’s and frequent flashes.

Nice blue hour lightning. Missed a much better bolt moments earlier.

Weak cc activity lights up the heavy rain.

Cells continued into the night.

Out of focus and mostly out of frame, but shows there were some good bolts around.

Embedded Cgs.

Nice cg touches down.


Nice spiderweb CC.

Storms developed further into the evening but Cg activity became less frequent and it was mostly a flash fest from here on. Sitting on a hill very exposed with a couple of random close bolts was enough to send me home for the night.

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2 Responses to Surface-based thunderstorm event 7 January 2015

  1. Golly Mark that was a productive chase! Mean-looking storms dumping rain and cgs by day and spectacular night-time lightning – best of both worlds and wide open spaces to view and photo the action. One of my favorites among your piccies is “Nice blue hour lightning. Missed a much better bolt moments earlier” – it’s very evocative of storms in South Australian countryside πŸ™‚

    • MarkDawsonPhoto says:

      Yes that was probably my favourite of the day also! The classic landscape of the mid north is certainly unique and easy to recognise πŸ™‚

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