Michael Thompson's Australian Storm Chase Diary

11th November 2001 - Non severe storms, south coast, NSW

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Sunset near Batemans BayThe sunset picture leads this chase report because it was simply the best photo of the day. I did score a briefly exciting storm, but low cloud made storm structure photos impossible.

This season so far has been a very poor one. The spring had been drier and cooler than normal, high pressure ridges from the Tasman Sea were persistant. Saturday the 10th was to be the first of two weeks holidays. With the prospect of a slow moving and strong high pressure system shutting down things locally next week I was desperate to chase.

I studied the models and saw three rather poor chances. Out of these I chose a chase to the South Coast as a weak SE wind change would be working along that coast later in the afternoon. The systems were that weak and low level moisture that poor I decided that the extra kick from the SE may tip the scales. I left home around noon and the conditions locally were very grim. Flat pancake cumulus dotted the sky, evidence of the dry atmosphere. At Nowra at 1.30pm and it was just as bad. On to Ulladulla at 2.30 where for the first time I could make some healthier cumulus far to the south. The NE wind at Ulladulla was close to 25 knots.

At the small town of Moruya I finally caught the fresher cloud. Low cloud was forming in the NE wind flow and towards the south a weak congestus Cu could be seem through the low cloud. Further south at Narooma and the winds were easterly. It was now total overcast and quite gloomy. At 4pm I entered steady rain at Bermagui. The AM radio was giving a spark every 2-3 mins, hardly exciting.

Total  white out of rain/hailLow cloud hugs Mount Dromedary

I passed time watching a fishing trawler, the AM static starting picking up. A fresh SE wind was blowing here and it was bitterly cold. There was a storm nearby but where ? To the west a bright patch of sky took my interest. In the total gloom and overcast this was interesting, why the sudden clearing in that one area. On a hunch I reasoned that perhaps this clear spot was from cold outflow of the storm I could hear in AM radio. I immediately headed towards this. I was right and at the Wallaga Lake bridge was greeting with the sight of a torrential rain curtain. I pulled over and enjoyed about 10 mins of this heavy rain.

The storm quickly headed seaward. I hoped that more storms may develop further north, so headed back to Narooma.

At 6pm I went into the small town of Tuross Heads and had some fish and chips for dinner. I ate these on the outskirts of town and there were some very dark cloud bases and I heard a couple of rumbles of distant thunder, but nothing became of it. On the way home I took a sunset photo at Batemans Bay.

Home and it was still dry and warm.

TECHNICAL NOTES: My target area was exactly where 36'S intercepts the coast. The 1000mb level winds show that there was convergence in this area. The weak SE was not a front as such, but rather stationary.

The LI was around 0 to -1 hardly inspirational. A nice jet at 300mb though ! Lastly notice the sharp increase in humidity in the target area.