Author Topic: Darwin storm events 2009/10 season  (Read 16036 times)

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Offline Mike

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Darwin storm events 2009/10 season
« on: 09 August 2009, 04:27:24 AM »
Greetings all.

That time of year again soon when all things dry and sundry return to normality and storms return to the NT.  The bureau has mentioned of late an earlier start to the build up transition period - as early as late August - which is really early.  Perhaps the arrival of el Nino this time around has something to do with it but for me the earlier the start the better because it means one thing - instability!

I've mentioned in previous years that the el Nino season delivers us much better storms and more frequent cyclones - why I have no idea as opposed to the la Nina cycle which supposedly gives us better storm action but does not deliver - I suspect that Far North Queensland benefited from la Nina than we have in the past as our storm days seem to increase with the Nino cycle.

I'll post as much as I can during the season with photos and reports.  I've made a conscious decision to chase more often, further and thankfully with the knowledge I've gained through our forum it will be more informative technically speaking.  As soon as i get wind of anything from the bureau of likely scenarios pre-wet season I'll let everyone know and look forward to posting madly.   If Shauno manages to come up to the Top End this season it will be mayhem to the extreme.....we've all heard the pub stories about him - only kidding!

Cheers from Darwin.
Darwin, Northern Territory.
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Lightning Research 2010/14

Offline Mike

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Re: Darwin storm events 2009/10 season
« Reply #1 on: 08 September 2009, 02:05:31 PM »
An early start to the storm season.

Forecast was for an inland shower but it produced a little more with a strong sea breeze which initiated convection big time.  Temps and DP's were rising and areas such as Acacia and Darwin River Dam about an hours drive from Darwin received some big cells.  One particular cell went beserk once the cap broke at around 4:30pm  It rose to a massive 55,000ft and anviled twice.  We have just received our first steady shower in over 5 months - much to my delight.  Around 4 strikes only recorded on GPAts lightning tracker.  A lot of the convection was reforming on the far north coast as I type.  The CAP was at around 25 during the arvo and LI's at a miserable -1 but soon managed a -2 and 1700 CAPE value and reduced the cap to 17 by the time the moisture fed the shower borne cells moving in.  Steady rain fell for around two hours - which was not unexpected given their slow movement.

Photos are...initial cell NW of Darwin which broke through the cap - a weak tower which broke free and still anviled out - most odd!

My bet is for storms end of September - it just looks very promising.





« Last Edit: 08 September 2009, 05:23:08 PM by Mike »
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Offline Adrian

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Re: Darwin storm events 2009/10 season
« Reply #2 on: 08 September 2009, 03:19:02 PM »
Greetings All,

Have to concur with Mike on the above - I have been in hibernation for much of the winter ... but looking at the radar tonight has pulled me out of my sleep somewhat early :)

Have been somewhat slack at posting in the last  5+ months but will hopefully be able to provide some good snaps .... if things fire up this season; which looks promising.

I look forward to catching up with the Darwin crew or interstate chasers ! 

Mike is cloudfairy still in town ? as I did a search and no posts since March ? and also what about a pre-storm season beer !

Cheers,
.adrian


Offline Mike

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Re: Darwin storm events 2009/10 season
« Reply #3 on: 09 September 2009, 09:06:51 AM »
Sorry to say that Renate returned back to Germany after the wet season (last) and won't be returning unless she gathers some bucks to fly back.  A pity because she loves Darwin and enjoyed the chases.  She's busy still with her thesis which is keeping her tied up, but i think she still is a member here so I expect her to be posting now and then drooling.

Somebody snapped an image of a double strike at 7pm from Mindil Beach overlooking Beswick (which is about 70 km across the harbour for those wondering!)  I saw it from home as I was balcony chasing for this erratic set up anyway.  Darwin received 11mm for the period till 9am today (8Sept) but areas inland received a fair bit more over the 24 hour period - that's where the convection started.

Much the same set up as yesterday but a little more dry air in the mids and shear is not as good as yesterday and is all over the place.  We'll have to see if the sea breeze has the same oomph but if it's too far inland it will shallow out the convection and keep it well outside Darwin.  Still hot and humid and the numbers on the sounding when replotting were 'okay', much the same as yesterday around this time @ 2:30pm, it was not until 5'ish that the convection ramped up significantly - so time will tell.

It's not a bad start for September and 11mm is pretty good for the Airport gauge.

post-storm beer always a welcome thing - if we can ever get our timing right pal!
Darwin, Northern Territory.
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Offline Antonio (stormboy)

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Re: Darwin storm events 2009/10 season
« Reply #4 on: 22 September 2009, 11:39:32 AM »

Offline Mike

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Re: Darwin storm events 2009/10 season
« Reply #5 on: 22 September 2009, 03:56:55 PM »
This is Hector Convection associated with mesoscale convective systems.  It is the precursor to our storm season and 'Hector' is a daily event from around lunch to 5pm each day.  The conditions that form the storms on the Tiwi Islands as you see on that satpic don't affect our weather or influenced by our mainland conditions unless there's outflow convergence from either side.  He's a massive storm of grand proportions!
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Offline Mike

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Re: Darwin storm events 2009/10 season
« Reply #6 on: 25 September 2009, 03:03:16 AM »
A night of instability inland and offshore with thunderstorms illuminating the evening and early morning sky.  As luck would have it, again, my first day back at work and the most likely night for storms was the same.  Although not quite the storm season proper and being the build up there's the odd day of storms to be had.

There were inland storms in the afternoon which I have attached some photos of.  This storm was over the Darwin River Dam area, accessible and it was very regenerative, cycling to anvil stage at least 5 times in the same location.  It almost seemed stationary.  The temps and dew points this morning around 1am were insane.  28C, 24C+ DP's and humidity at 86%...very thick!   Storms kept firing about 70km from my home but hey were dissipating and reforming in areas where I can't chase due to lack of roads...and with an hour's drive or more to intercept them at 3am it's just not viable.

So I waited up watching the radar in the hope that the Nor'eastern storms that had been lighting up the sky would swing around and track along the Darwin coast...at least giving me something to go after...but sleep deprivation was looming after work and went to bed...I should have gone with my gut, swallowed 3 Red Bulls and a Barrocca because they did indeed do just that.

Here's the loop:

128km Radar Loop for Darwin/Berrimah, 09:00 23/09/2009 to 20:00 23/09/2009 UTC


Afternoon storm in it's first cycle and progressive anvils taken on the way to work.







Edit - Mike you can place links to permanent radar archives from this website: http://www.theweatherchaser.com/radar-loop/
« Last Edit: 25 September 2009, 03:45:05 AM by Michael Bath »
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Offline Mike

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Re: Darwin storm events 2009/10 season
« Reply #7 on: 05 October 2009, 02:09:13 PM »
Chase report Oct 3 2209

Instability was up a little for storms inland, where inland was anyone's guess.  Radar had detected some convection happening about 100-200km's inland from Darwin associated with a convergence line that had been lingering there with a trough line.  The  CAP was being stubborn in breaking so Darwin and surrounding rural areas missed out big time.  The sea breeze had really evaporated any moisture and nighttime moisture was the only thing that would form anything.  I met up with two chase friends whom I had not chased with prior, Rowland whom some of you know from the ASWA meetings and his partner Samantha.  Heading out at 5pm was a good starting point to allow maximum heating to get things skyward...


We decided that Adelaide River might be a good starting point for a location which is around 100km's south of Darwin.  We had a view of two cells which were struggling to get any decent height and they quickly dissipated.  Checking the radar once more there was good convective lift another 100km's further south so we made the decision to high tail it to Pine Creek, a mining town on the Stuart Highway.  On the way there we witnessed some big strikes, many double hits and a few positive strikes so we were keen to get some photos.
 

Our final intercept point was a rural airport - actually a cleared area with a flat strip of dirt for a runway - but it proved the best vantage point with no annoying trees in the way.  We had found the airport by accident, so that was a bonus!  There were flashes and CGs in the distance as the strikes were orange in color, so too far to capture any decent shots with any substance.  After about half an hour the storms had revamped and cells were forming back north at Emerald Springs.  Radar indicated storms that were reforming with outflow so we packed up and raced down the highway around 30km.  We drove through several moderate showers with constant intracloud lightning illuminating the night sky.  A bit like core punching but without the bear.  We quickly located on the lee side of the storms and found an intersection with a good view and set up.   There were quite a few large strikes but although we were 'close' we were not close enough to really capture bolts which would fill the frame of a photo.  We all managed the same amount of shots with the same strikes, and in essence mine were not that spectacular given the low cloud cover obscuring these big bolts leaping from the top of the crowns.

By around 11:30pm we decided to head back home and checking the radar the storms quickly weakened soon after anyway.  They were tracking NE from our past location and no roads led to them in any event.  There's not much on the horizon for further storm action this week unless something changes, so it will be another down time period.  Given it's still only early October we were pleased to have at least chased - and taken the risk to get some action.  Sometimes you have to just go and do it to get some reward and seeing those big strikes on the drive there was well worth the effort in some respects.  The storm season will really get underway soon, so there's better things to come by a long mile.  I have some pics but they're not all that great for keepers but they are posted here below.

The bureau has given their cyclone outlook for this season and it's much the muchness as previous years...the usual three forming and at least one making landfall and the standard locations for cyclones to form are in the Gulf of Carpentaria.  The only thing that has changed is that they expect a cyclone in January if one does form and that the SSTs are a lot cooler and atmospherics are a little haphazard making their forecasting difficult.

Some good news in November for me at least is that there is a German lightning documentary company returning to Darwin to film time lapse lightning.  They were last here in 1985 with the late Peter Jarver, and the producer contacted me a few weeks back.  The question came up as to 'when is the best time for lightning?' (again!) so I told him - well, Darwin has storms most days, but I'm not sticking my neck out for an approximate date!  He is expected to arrive from November 20-25.  I'm looking forward to meeting him, chatting about Peter and doing some serious chasing for he and his crew.   I shouold be able to retire on the royalty money...not!...

It will be a pleasure for the science aspect and getting them as close as I can to that stuff we all like to photograph.





Darwin, Northern Territory.
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Lightning Research 2010/14

Offline Jimmy Deguara

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Re: Darwin storm events 2009/10 season
« Reply #8 on: 05 October 2009, 02:23:59 PM »
Mike,

Impressive updrafts in the photographs above with a little shearing of the top anvil. Any ideas as to the cloud top heights.

You were lucky with the lightning to get in between the tree for your picture. I have seen a bolt do similar in an LP supercell near Penrith in 2005. Good to see some action up that way.

Regards,

Jimmy Deguara
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Offline Mike

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Re: Darwin storm events 2009/10 season
« Reply #9 on: 05 October 2009, 07:50:52 PM »
I was told that the tops were up to 52,000ft - they were pretty dominating on the horizon!

The bolts were frequent in those other shots but those clouds just blocked our view.  Tonight a sneak line of storms fast tracked from the rural area through Darwin and rejuvenated once they hit the coastline again.  I was out in the thick of it but it was messy.  Very fast moving cells with a low cloud blanket base.  Not too many CG's but managed a nice streamer shot that took up the whole frame.

Here's the radar loop and the sole lowly image. Nice to hear from you Jimmy, hope all is great with you.



http://radar.strikeone.net.au/?fuseaction=loops.main&radar=633&numberofImages=41&dateStart=1254646800&dateFinish=1254664800

Here's a cool time lapse of an afternoon rural storm in the Darwin River area.  This storm is in exactly the same location as those very first images I posted...but this was a real beast of a storm.  Overshooting top can be seen in the lightning illumination.  Credit to William Nguyen Phuoc who takes amazing bird photos up here, but now has a liking for storms.

Thunderstorm @ Bachelor & A.R from Darwin Harbour (HD)

« Last Edit: 05 October 2009, 08:14:52 PM by Mike »
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Offline Adrian

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Re: Darwin storm events 2009/10 season
« Reply #10 on: 06 October 2009, 07:25:29 PM »
4 Oct 2009

Several cells moved through the Darwin area, mainly from the south east - a few good CG's made me get the camera out.

Alas - didn't capture anything but thought that I would add this shot.

.adrian

Offline Mike

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Re: Darwin storm events 2009/10 season
« Reply #11 on: 07 October 2009, 06:57:15 AM »
Wow a turbulent cloud base!  It was a little messy to say the least. Regrettably there's fine and sunny days on the cards for at least a week, I'd much rather be in NSW at the moment!
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Offline Mike

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Re: Darwin storm events 2009/10 season
« Reply #12 on: 27 October 2009, 08:04:04 AM »
Glad to see I'm not the only one frustrated with the GFS outlooks - promise much but hand over little.  This dry surge is extremely strong and has kept all the instability away from Darwin and inland and confined it to the western Top End.  Tomorrow 27th (Tues) and Wed show some potential for inland stuff.  The bureau obviously have drawn straws of late!  Moisture is there but there's an ever present and persistent dry area flowing directly over Darwin . Tthe models look good with high cape etc either side of Darwin, but we're in between this moisture and suffering miserably.

The build up heat has def arrived with temps around 35-36C but humidity is a woeful 15-18.  The odd sprinkle during the early hours as the winds die down and moisture is allowed to do its thing, but middle to late November should see storms properly forecast with an abundance of moisture across the Top End once the MJO shifts more easterly. 

Should not complain too much as the transition is still taking place, but this time last year there were a lot more storms about here and there, perhaps the el Nino cycle has a firm grip on the eastern states and affecting us with this barrage of dry air hence you guys whinging also!  I hope my Austrian guests come late November won't be disappointed...sheesh a long way to come and get nothing - but I've told them the rules - Mother Nature dictates what happens so don't take my word for a guarantee of storm action to chase!!!!
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Offline Adrian

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Re: Darwin storm events 2009/10 season
« Reply #13 on: 08 December 2009, 06:37:54 PM »
6 Dec 2009

Large cell moved through darwin at around 8-9pm, mainly sheet lighting and the odd CG, got this keeper.

cheers,
.adrian

Offline Mike

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Re: Darwin storm events 2009/10 season
« Reply #14 on: 09 December 2009, 08:35:18 AM »
Has been a busy two weeks for us mob up here.  Every day we've had large storms and the big arvo ones are severe warned regularly.  We've had hail reported over the last week and a half.  I encountered hail at Noonamah Saturday arvo when I was inside the core of a large second storm.  The lightning was insane around the car and def heard that 'plonk' on the roof several times.  Marble sized hail was seen at Corroboree, about 100k's or so east of Darwin towards Jabiru.  Strong gusts of up to 45-50kts and marble hail were seen, collected by locals. Something they would have never seen - the lapse rates of the storms have been very cool - strong leftward cooling on the soundings of late!

CAPE values have hovered around 3000 most days with good steering.  CAPE values for this week on coastal and inland regions is 4000 - 4400 - something I've not seen so often in December and the cloud heights have been enormous.  We photographed 56 CG's in a 20 minute period on Sunday night as a second storm came through from the rural area and skirted town.  I think the total tally of strikes was in the order of 1600, and the crawlers were simply mind boggling - just would not stop.

It's the best two weeks of chasing by far - when I've been able to get out.  One grabs so many photos I don't have time between work and chasing to update my site or post here so apologies.

Core which hail was produced Sunday last.



Some images of the CG's - we were located at the back end of it to maximise the view due to wind and rain on the leading edge.









Manfred and Klaus on assignment for National Geographic chasing with me during all last week.  They are doing a doco on lightning worldwide and Darwin was their final destination.  Their $230,000 Phantom 1000FPS timelapse camera recorded some of our bolts with up to 14 return strokes - yep, true!  I watched the time lapse with them before they left and it was just insane - return stroke after stroke...and the channels glow for 2 seconds after the strike has stopped!





The guys time lapsing lightning on a big storm - they never stand outside when there's lightning...unlike us mad Aussies!



Clyve and Jane were in town too!



Spectacular severe warned storm we saw grow from nothing to maturity...a beast!



I'll add a report (which will be long) when I get more free time in the next day or two...take care all.
Darwin, Northern Territory.
StormscapesDarwin.com
Lightning Research 2010/14