Thompson's Australian Storm Chase Diary
31st January 2008, Wollongong to Livepool, NSW
photos (except video
stills ) clickable for larger size
A very low based storm develops over the Illawarra
Good setup days and work, not a desirable mixture. Having to work today
offered mixed blessings. The day was forecast to have around 1600 CAPE
in the Southern Highlands area - if it was not a work day I would have
chased that area, and from reports received that would have been close
to a bust. On the other hand I do not take a video camera to work and
this cost me some fantastic footage.
This storm was the sort that was an experience to chase, but one in
which a still camera was next to useless at times.
I left work at 4pm and took a nice picture of a brooding base over the
Illawarra escarpment. The green told me that despite the appearances of
outflow, that there was serious updraft action. After a few CG's in the
area I knew that rain would fallen so I headed north along the coast
I was in the core of the first storm for almost 20 minutes. The
experience was one of the more exciting of my chase career. Near
Woonona I lost sight of the road completely, it had flooded from kerb
to kerb and over the top. This was serious flash flooding and in my
little Corolla as opposed to my normal 4WD a bid concerning. It was not
just the flash flooding, but wind and hail. The lightning was some of
the most intense I have seen.
I finally cleared the storm line at Waterfall on the southern suburbs
At Waterfall i watched the Illawarra move offshore. A combination of
outflow and already existing higher based convection in SW Sydney began
to take off. At first the base features were rather bland, but after 3
or 4 lightning bolts well ahead of any rain area I knew again that
above the bases there was unseen potential. I headed up the Heathcothe
road and as I approached Holsworthy a better organised storm developed.
I knew that this storm may produce a microburst as the temperature here
was in the low 30C range. I was not wrong and round two for the day
occurred at Holsworthy - Moorebank. The wind was very strong with
numerous branches down. A tree fell across the road a few hundred metres
in front of me. The only option was to drive the footpath around it.