Author Topic: Darwin rumblings 2010/11  (Read 13086 times)

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Offline Mike

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Darwin rumblings 2010/11
« on: 10 August 2010, 08:12:28 AM »
It's been over 12 months I think since I last posted on the forum - so sorry for that.  I've been so busy with work and finishing trade school (at my old age) that have not had too much time to concentrate on much.  Added to that the computer blew up and could not for the life of me remember all my passwords for just about everything I visit made it all the more frustrating...so I decided to take a break from forums and things and just relax a bit before I burned myself out!

Anyway...we've had a prolonged wet season which did not actually cease until late May, early June and in fact had a thunderstorm to the NW near Dundee Beach?Litchfield area during the middle of July!  Insane stuff.  Some people got some photos of it which I will get permission to share with you...quite unusual and unseasonal.  We had a burst of moisture from an upper trough which moved over from WA and created some humidity and convection, with the NW area obviously very liking those elements and the resultant thunderstorm was shown!

Given the La Nina cycle again the usual banter is about re what type of season we will have...I've almost given up trying to predict anything due to the fact that each season promises less and less.  Last season was in reality quite dull - even compared to the previous season - with no major storms moving into Darwin except for a couple of nights, Dec10 being the incredible lightning display this city has seen in many years - of course I could only view it from the loading dock at work...

The storms of the last few seasons, I believe are being affected by the urban sprawl - the storms seem to be splitting from around Middle Point area - about 30km from Darwin - and then splitting in a V and moving either NW or NE and a large hole left where Darwin sits.  if the sea breeze is supposed to aid storm initiation then something is wrong!  Any storms with weak steer or shear are killed off rapidly once they come within 20km of Darwin.

I will post some photos from last season and some other info of things I'm up to this time around.  I will have to spend an hour or two going over all the thread topics in the forum to catch up on everything, so apologies again but glad to be back online here...

Some photos from 2009/10 to get things rolling





















There was also the opportunity to film with National Geographic in November 2009 for their recently finished documentary on lightning chasers.  It was filmed by an Austrian film company which had been to the US and South America and then came to Darwin to look me up and take them chasing.  Little nighttime action but a host of daytime storms which they were well pleased with.  Spent 10 days with them filming off and on and the trailer to the doco is herewith below.  Tom Warner is also featured in another snippet but I was humbled to see moi in the doco!  From what friends say in the US my ten minute addition was at the end of the hour long doco.  They caught more lightning in two days than they did spending 2 weeks in the US!!  Should be receiving my unedited copy of the doco soon from the producers.  Quite exciting to film with them and very exhausting!

Link to NatGeo doco trailer....the time lapse of the car is pretty cool...!

http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/series/naked-science/3625/facts#tab-Videos/08490_00




cheers all!
« Last Edit: 10 August 2010, 12:04:25 PM by Mike »
Darwin, Northern Territory.
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Lightning Research 2010/14

Offline Karina Roberts (slavegirl)

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Re: Darwin rumblings 2010/11
« Reply #1 on: 04 September 2010, 04:01:52 PM »
wow! Sounds like you have been extremely busy to say the least! I am loving the pics you have posted and cannot wait for your chase reports for the NT i find them a most interesting read and always love your photography - keep up the excellent work Mike :)
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Offline Mike

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Re: Darwin rumblings 2010/11
« Reply #2 on: 19 September 2010, 11:18:41 AM »
Not a lot happening up here as yet.  Had a nice large storm the other afternoon which produced some CGs but short lived.  Most of the instability was and will be concrentrated on the NW region of the NT for now but the dreaded high pressure ridge is certainly strong for the next few days probably up until next weekend.  Inland trough has caused some rumbles and rain as the ridge meets the trough but mainly through the interiors of the NT.

Hector has been on and off of late, decent enough CAPE to get him up to 45,000ft - whilst not huge - still conducive to the Tiwi Islands for this time of year but the systems are confined to the northern areas of the islands so he's a little hard to see clearly with all the heat haze.  Thus far he's been forming in CAPE of less than 1000 and been producing heavy precip.  There was one day a fortnight ago whereby the CAPE was around 1500 and the system was unreal.  No less than 8 fully matured large anvilled storms were in plain view from the mainland with two immature cells on the trailing edge!  It's a crying shame he only forms between say 1pm and 4pm and then starts to dissipate...storms that size only 78km away would be an impressive sunset shot!  Unfortunatley Hector only produces minimal lightning - and pretty rare to see any from the coast I might add - if you were situated in the bays around the islands or offshore you would be getting some nice CG's, but there must be too much moisture in the system to promote active electrification aloft for those big positive discharges.  Really interesting to find that out actually...a large MCS storm with little lightning...oh well, makes a nice postcard shot when he's crispy and anvilled!

 There's been plenty of talk this season being a super la Nina period..(has something to do with cooler water at certain levels etc, something I neglect to focus on!) BoM has expressed similar views as numbers continue to add up to a simmilar season to 74-75 and we know what happened then!  The weather has been very early as far as a build up is concerned, only with the strong high cells down south are we getting drier air, but it's not cooling things down at all.  BoM tips a cyclone in December (although nothing new!) but indicated also that the tropical depressions that will form will do so more in the Timor and Arafura seas and not so much in the Gulf of Carpentaria.  If the unseasonal weather thus far is any indication then chasing up here could be a ripper for 2010/11.






cheers all.
« Last Edit: 19 September 2010, 11:27:05 AM by Mike »
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Lightning Research 2010/14

Offline Mike

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Re: Darwin rumblings 2010/11
« Reply #3 on: 11 October 2010, 06:56:58 AM »
Well the season has officially started being October.  We've had storms just about everywhere except in the city so there has been no lack of opportunities to get something.  Most of the storms are being confined to the inland regions and far NW coast of late.  September proved to be a very unseasonal period, I guess the strong La Nina cycle has something to do with that.  The storms over the past few days have been okay, a little bit messy at times and not akin to the standard late October/November storms that show strong persistent updrafts in clean blue sky...when they do go up they are short lived and sometimes low capped.  An abundance of Pileus but most of the maturing storms are further out yonder with large anvils.

I've chased when I have been able to and whilst there's lots of structure shots, those big bolts have eluded me on occasions.  Even using a trigger for the daytime shots the bolts have not been strobing enough to allow the trigger to nail the strikes.  We're in for a wet week by the looks of the GFS, a weak low will form off to the NW later in the week so that would add more precip to an already record making September rainfall wise.  

I've undertaken a personal task to research lightning and the BoM are supportive and would like any data/footage or stills of the particular lightning I'm reseasrching. Primarily it will be reverse lightning and blue jets.  I've been scratching my head as to why we have so much lightning yet little upward leader activity to promote reverse lightning, even with tall structures and a plethora of negative strikes.  Questions to be answered hopefully.

Tom Warner in the US has been a great help with equip info that I could use and Dr Earl Williams in the US has asked a lot of questions...usually with the line 'What evidence do you have of this' scenario....answers I can't give yet because no-one has done any research since the late 80's during Project Dundee in Kakadu.  Earl wants me to get strong, powerful negative CG images or video...this is something that has a lot of mystery to them apparently...the more they pulse the better.  The return stroke rate is of interest to him it seems.

So chasing thus far has just been nailing target areas using the models etc and not being a radar chaser!  I like to get out alone as the storms come in just to brush up on all the knowledge that MB and Jimmy have taught me over the years to make sure my forecasting and nowcasting is spot on for success rates.  So far so good.  Have a few secret locations with great views and ya gotta keep some areas to yourself!!!

Here's a few photos of the storms during September and this week.  Comments always welcome and will keep everyone up to date on what transpires this season.



















« Last Edit: 11 October 2010, 07:04:41 AM by Mike »
Darwin, Northern Territory.
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Lightning Research 2010/14

Offline Michael Bath

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Re: Darwin rumblings 2010/11
« Reply #4 on: 11 October 2010, 11:55:28 AM »
Hi Mike,

Nice set of images there.

Do you mean lightning that shoots out the top of the anvil, or ground to cloud strokes?   GCs are very uncommon here but of course there are not many structures around. I can only remember one storm in particular that had several ground to cloud strokes from comms towers on the ranges north of my place, but really, quite rare.
regards, Michael
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Offline Mike

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Re: Darwin rumblings 2010/11
« Reply #5 on: 11 October 2010, 06:09:31 PM »
Hi, Michael.  Ground to cloud lightning.  Whereby strong negative (positive return stroked) strikes initiate upward lightning that return stroke positively (confusing aint it!)  They are pretty rare I agree but in the US they are prevalent.  Whether or not it has to do with atmos conditions or storm types is something to be investigated.  I've only got one image of upward leaders and that was by accident photographing a big CG..was only after viewing the image that I went whoa!



You can see the upward leaders streaming up - they were unseen by the naked eye and were simultaneous as the CG hit.  Because this one did not hit anything high was even more surprising..

Storm report 10/10/2010

I had always planned to chase today (Sunday) as the CAPE was a little better.  Although the scenarios have been somewhat 'wet' storm wise there have been brief moments of anticipation seeing flashes here and there but electrification was always going to struggle a bit given the low storm tops.  Many of the storms failed to anvil and they remained average in height, so chasing the ones that did get decent lift still proved a pain the neck given a lot of low cloud surrounding them.  Rather than being able to pick something that was going to produce lightning of some depth became akin to finding a target, waiting...more waiting and then moving on again.  So no success over the last couple of days or nights.

GFS was okay for energy but I don't beleive good enough for decent cells to remain high and charged.  Whilst the lightning trackers were showing some decent amount of hits, the reality is that most, if not all of them were totally hidden behind heavy precip curtains.



We had targeted east toward Jabiru, about 90km short of the town.  We did see only one large CB that anvilled twice with overshooting tops, but if there were bolts then we were obviously too late.  We decided to keep to the Annaboroo area and wait for things to happen.  There was no shortage of cells meandering and grouping and as it panned out - as you will see by the radar loop - a long line of cells converged into a line and kept on going.  No strong winds or torrential downpours, just a grandmother paced moderate rain borne line that just took its time to the coast.  Which made chasing something easy...just stay ahead of it and she'll be right!

I had planned to chase to Adelaide River some 70km south of Darwin, which going by the GFS models was a little less in CAPE, but from what we saw on radar and visually had probably the larger storm sets as our line east merged with it.  So William and I headed out east in the hope of lightning...alas not to be, but got some nice structured shots and the like.

Sounding for today was pretty average but showed a lot of moisture and a dreaded cap that was really hard to break.  Only a few discreet cells found locations in which to get some distance aloft, all the others remained under the cap, which would have inhibited electrification of any worth or timeframe.



Radar loop for the day..

http://radar.strikeone.net.au/?fuseaction=loops.main&radar=633&numberofImages=10&dateStart=1286683200&dateFinish=1286712000

You will see the cells starting to form at the beginning of the loop, this is when we headed out east.  The line behind at the final run time was heading toward Darwin as I posted the reply here...so more wet stuff about to come.

Images from today's chase:

On the highway going east...the line starts to begin.



William, who is traditionally a landscape and bird snapper...and an NT policeman who likes storm shots...!  The storm behind is off to the NW...a beastie that was!





Various shelf cloud shots on the way back toward Darwin.  It rained from here on in!





The line of cells flanking towards the south-west on their journey to something...



There's a low progged for this week to the NW of the NT...no rublings of anything yet as it's a bit weak, but most of the authorities overseas have picked up on it.  Early monsoon?  Looks ominous with the amount of thunderstorm activity in the Timor and Arafura seas....

Cheers all!


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Lightning Research 2010/14

Offline Mike

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Re: Darwin rumblings 2010/11
« Reply #6 on: 18 December 2010, 09:04:24 AM »
Monsoon madnbess.  Hi all, November and December proved to be an insane period for decent storms..albeit storms actually came September!  Have been chasing a fair bit and pretty busy with other commitments but might as well give some details on what's happening up here.

The monsoon is lying just south of the Top End and is progressing that way...Darwin has not received the typical monsoonal showers and storms just yet...the BoM kept back dating the arrival of it all week and looks like it will come to us properly tomorrow (saturday 18th)  There have been some nice storms poking their heads out in the fast moving trough and although pretty much unchasable unless you're in the particular arwa it would be hard to actually nab some nice clean shots given the constantly changing blanket of cloud.  Nighttime does show a little promise as the storms are forming mainly during the late arvo and evening, so as opportunities come it's a case of get somewhere, look for the best cells and keep the camera awake!  Dominant NW flow now from the trough so things should get windy etc over the coming days as activity increases.

There are/were two lows embedded in the trough but they are pretty weak now and no cyclogenesis is expected from them...especially now that the trough is over land...will have to wait until the trough moves north again.  Good times for wet stuff if you want it, but seems the whole country - especailly you guys in the eastern states are copping an almighty rainfall event each week.  Not to mention the storms also...big hail, injuries and sadly some deaths from those storms the other day.

Have added some images that I have been taking during the past month or so, so enjoy and look forward to commenting on our weather if anyone is interested ;)



















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Lightning Research 2010/14

Offline Mike

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Re: Darwin rumblings 2010/11
« Reply #7 on: 19 December 2010, 10:19:59 AM »
Monsoon finally delivers 18Dec

Well after a forecast of monsoonal showers and storms all week and absolutely nothing deliverying, today at least the weather is doing what we expected.  Lines of rain bands moving through Darwin with text book monsoonal character.  Downpour - lull - downpour etc.  The odd rumble of thunder here and there but not definitive CG's as one would expect!

Screen capture:



sounding with current obs at time.  (bit soggy!)  Nice winds from the coast at a constant 35kts.




Oh...I have Maarten Brandt with me for about a month...well chasing per se for 12 days.  He says hi to Jimmy and David Croan...and some guy with a large build and a beard...?

Darwin, Northern Territory.
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Lightning Research 2010/14

Offline Mike

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Re: Darwin rumblings 2010/11
« Reply #8 on: 13 March 2011, 07:41:44 AM »
Would have made a nice image if the settings were right for the moment....had set for dusk with sporadic lightning...this thing hit near me and blew it out on the original...so took out all the light to highlight the branching.
Darwin, Northern Territory.
StormscapesDarwin.com
Lightning Research 2010/14