Michael Thompson's Australian Storm Chase Diary
6th - 8th December 2004 - Central West storm outbreak, NSW

Day 1 - 6th December 2004 - Gilgandra, NSW

Early convection constrasted against a crisp blue sky
The colours in the storms went some way to compensate for lack of visible structure

For several days leading up to this event the talk in the Australian chase community was excited anticipation of the conditions unfolding. A low was set to develop over inalnd NSW, ahead of the low N/NE where bringing down Coral Sea moisture, behind the trough drier SW winds mixing in were setting the scene for a US style dryline.

I left home at 6am to get me to a central target area at lunchtime. On the way over the great divide the first convective Cumulus clouds appeared at 8.30am, the first weak cell started sparking on the AM radio at 10am. There is always a temptation to chase these early storms, but I knew that they would be weak, so kept on track for the plains.

At lunchtime at Wellington I decided my next course of action - some healthly cells were close to exploding just east, whilst to the far north an anvil could be seen. I decided to head north. By the time I got to Gilgandra a line had developed to west, and little structure could seen - it also appeared a little moisture starved. I headed west to Warren into this line. A small cell exploded just east of the main line. The total cloud cover tended to mask otherwise strong features, in hindsight the updraft of this ' weak' cell was in fact very strong.

A small cell rapidly devevlops near Warren - 10 mins later hail lay inches deep over the road.
A nice lightning show followed.

In the space of 25 mins the cell went from nothing to a full on microburst. I had to stop driving twice, once as it was a complete whiteout, and another occasion when hail became so deep that my 4WD lost traction.

Map below courtesy of Bureau of Meteorology

X = Intercept area