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TORNADO Sighted in NE NSW: Monday 29th January 2001
by Michael Bath

I was watching a very large cumulus cell develop above the valley just in front of our house at McLeans Ridges around 3.30pm, the main updraft being perhaps 1.5km north. Inflow was very obvious from the SW and SE, sort of wrapping around the hill behind us. I was more interested in getting a downpour of rain to relieve the oppressive humidity, but that wasn't to be as it was very slowly tracking north. The cell had grown to about 7-8km in height but not producing any lightning that I could detect. It dumped rain on the hills and in the valley just to the north and the subsequent outflow winds had reversed the whole surface appearance to the NW. Low cloud was now moving towards the SW instead of previously from it.

McLeans Ridges 3.36pm looking N McLeans Ridges 3.38pm looking N

At 3.54pm I glanced out the window to the NNW and was amazed to see a funnel of cloud from the SW side of the cell all the way to the ground on a hill facing me approximately 5-6km away. The parent "storm" had a backshear at around 6-7km in height with the funnel occurring on the flanking line which spread SW towards more large cumulus cells.

The tornado must have been from 200 to 400 metres in length, up to 50-150 metres wide, and it persisted for a good five minutes (almost all on video) evolving through various contortions, becoming thicker and thinner at times, with other scuds very noticeably wrapping around the funnel. It moved towards the NNW, with the wall cloud maintaining its features for quite some time after the funnel dissipated. I'd say this likely F0 tornado was in the landspout category, with mostly low level vorticity causing it, and the high humidity (DP/temp ~23/26) making it visible.

McLeans Ridges 3.54pm looking NW McLeans Ridges 3.54pm looking NW3.54pm
McLeans Ridges 3.55pm looking NW3.55pm
McLeans Ridges 3.56pm looking NW McLeans Ridges 3.56pm looking NW3.56pm

Some additional photos of the tornado taken by Dave Ellem from Wollongbar, approximately 2km SE of McLeans Ridges.

Wollongbar looking NW Wollongbar looking NW Wollongbar looking NW

The radar loop is here, not showing anything particularly exciting, but does show a small hook echo just above the 're' in Lismore at 0500z. Maybe just a coincidence.

  • Radar 0420z to 0520z 29/01/2001 (3.20pm to 4.20pm local)

  • Satellite Picture 0500z IR shows a weak anvil over the area.

  • MSL Chart 29/01/2001 06z

    Images from Bureau of Meteorology

    Document: 200101-02.html
    Updated: 26th October, 2001
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