Sunday 4th December 2016
This day was an interesting day, decent wind shear, moderate instability but a lack of moisture would mean storms would remain fairly isolated and high based, feeding off any mid level moisture around. Models had dew points increasing during the late afternoon and early evening, but could storms survive until better conditions arrived?
I headed out to Millmerran on the Darling Downs and watched towering cumulus explode, soon enough the first storm of the day had fired up. It was high based with some decent structure. To the north a fire was ongoing and soon became a pyrocumulus with multiple cloud to ground lightning strikes recorded out of this, amazing to watch. Early evening a stiff north easterly breeze had moved across the region bringing in a high moisture content, and soon after a large clusters of cumulus towers developed from Dalby back east towards the Toowoomba region. Not long after these exploded into cloud to ground lightning machines!! Cg's rained down every couple of seconds from close range for around and hour, the constant booming from the thunder was tremendous. At around 9pm the storms had moved off to the north in a roadless area and it was time to end the chase and head on home. Fun day indeed.
Monday 13th March 2017
13th March 2017, Moree New South Wales tornadic supercell:
All parameters were leading to a significant supercell thunderstorm outbreak across inland region of NSW on the 13th March 2017. A strong upper low was sitting across inland regions of northern NSW along with a sharpening dryline. Strong speed shear and excellent turning in the lower levels, coupled with strong instability and steep lapse rates spelt trouble for these regions during the late afternoon.
Surface temperatures seemed to struggle during the day but eventually the cap broke with explosive supercell development along the dryline late afternoon where we encountered this tornadic supercell north west of Wee Waa. The RFD surge on this storm was like no other I had seen in Australia, it quickly wrapped up and a small funnel developed before it became occluded. Shortly afterwards the RFD wrapped up once again before a much larger funnel dropped a third of the way to the ground and persisted for a good 5-7minutes.
While driving back east to keep ahead of the storm we encountered what we believe to be a short lived tornado back in the rain. Our storm slowly started to die not long after this as it was encountering cooler air from the activity that had developed further to the east ahead of our thunderstorm. That would spell the end of our chase and was time to head home.
Severe Tropical Cyclone Debbie. March 27th-28th, 2017
Severe Tropical Cyclone Debbie would end up being a system I would never forget. After flying from Brisbane to Townsville to meet up with our mates at Oz Cyclone Chasers on the 25th, we headed to Bowen on the 26th. During the day, Debbie's eye began to wobble as it closed in on the coast, and looked like it would crossed around Airlie Beach as a powerful category 4 system.
Late on the 26th, we hit the road for Airlie Beach and arrived to winds gusting around 100km/h, but this was only the beginning. Conditions worsened through the night as the eye approached, and by mid-to-early morning Debbie's eye was on top of us. The winds were ferocious and due to the slow moving nature of Debbie, sustained for hours on end. Winds exceeding 250km/h were recorded, with Hamilton Island seeing a gust of 263km/h.
Eventually the eye crossed, and the sun tried hard to peak through the clouded eye as we were hoping for that full stadium effect, sadly that didn't eventuate. The hours rolled by as the eastern eye wall moved over and once again the incredible strong, sustained winds continued.
I rank this chase as one of my all time favourites, however it was about to take a sour turn. The remnants of Debbie headed south, and produced record flooding across parts of the Albert River in SE QLD, with our family farm going completely underwater. That is mother nature at her most powerful.