It was the start of January 2007, the weather charts and model prognosis had a possible cut off low forming in the Vic/SA Mallee region and it potentially meandering up through the NSW and Qld outbacks. So I set off on a 1-2wk stormchasing trip through the regions. The first night saw late storms develop in a line with a spectacular lightning show in the Riverina, just over the Vic-NSW border. The following day I positioned myself quite well for an exciting day’s chasing further north in the lower western district with a massive line of storms developing over the incredibly dry plains of the Ivanhoe-Hillston ditrict of NSW. The raised dust and ensuing squall line complete with gustnadoes passing overhead as I outrun this wall of menace on a 80km dry weather only ‘road’ west of Hillston – how much more fun can it be ?
The following day saw me kind of stuff my days chasing up by a bad road choice and staying too far south. This particular day saw falls of the 150mm range fall just south of Bourke in the upper western district of NSW. The following morning I was determined to get back on the pace and get my forecasts right again which meant pushing a long way north. This meant a lot of km’s to get under the belt early in the NSW outback with all the roos out and about. With this period of several hundred km’s of featureless outback driving negotiated I got into Cobar early and refueled and re-stocked on food. This left the 200km scrubby and ‘viewless’ drive to Bourke. Just south of Bourle there was some impressive flooding crossing the Hwy in several place with that spectacular red tinge of the outback soil. A number of drivers were too unsure to push through them but it all looked pretty simple to me – so onwards I pushed.
Bourke is not a place that I ever really want to stick around for longer than refueling and that’s all it was. Around midday I was approaching the NSW-Qld western border – with little communications or data available I knew that I was on track and was now on the north side of the low and I could see some signs of convection to my NW.
Finally at Cunnamulla there was a road option to the west which I readily took towards a developing line of juicy storms and the odd supercell… A very organised storm just to the south of this road had me doing another no no – chasing down a dirt road in the outback, not a suggested practise as they turn to slippery slop at the hint of rain ! From a position on this road I watched and photographed a sepctacular storm leaving it to the last seconds to retreat… So once again I raced the rain back north up a dirt road. I knew I could leave it late due to the storms pushing eastwards but slightly ladding west further north. Back to the bitumen just in time as the next storm in the line hit and it took some more serious driving to get back in front of this one as 50km’s later I was still under the core in Cunnamulla again – dumping 3cm hail and lashing winds with spectacular CG lightning all around I finally got a bit of ground on the storm and a clearing some 30km’s east of Cunnamulla.
Paused on an outback plain of red dirt the now outflow dominant storm had a spectacular gustfront and booming pink hued CG lightning spectacularily crashing all around – what a sight !
So with ‘GUNSHOT’ CG lightning crashing only several hundred meters away with too much regularity for comfort. I snapped this beautiful scene of a CG strike blasting it’s way through the gustfront on it’s express journey to the red outback soil on a 35mm rotating drum lens camera with a 1:2.5 ratio on a 1 second exposure – GOLD ! If anyone has ever seen or used these type of cameras you will know there is usually no lightmeter and only a handfull of shutter speedsand apertures to choose your exposure from. With punishing lightning smacking down all around there is very little time to get your image ‘right’ when on chases such as this.
The next day I had to push north again and found myself experiencing some more nice storms in the Tambo-Blackall region of outback Qld. I had then wanted to explore the Mount Moffatt area of the western central highlands of Qld but all these storms flooded the roads and there was no access this trip…I could not complain though with 5days of spectacular storms.
I’m at home tonight looking through some older images and I came across some work from this particular trip and thought that I would share this one even though it is an older low res scan from a few years ago.Perhaps I should dig up some more photos from this trip and other stormchasing adventures… Geeze it would be nice to see some decent convective storms again !
‘ outback storm – velvia 100 ’