Pictures without time / date can be clicked on for a larger image - thanks to Jane O'Neill for supply of some digital images

Day 5, 29th November 2000 - Gunnedah to Gunnedah, 250kms, Severe storms widespread throughout eastern New South Wales. We encountered a severe multicell near Gunnedah.
As far back as 3-4 days earlier we had our eyes and hopes on today's trough system and strengthening jet stream. We started the day with a strategic move to a lookout near the town of Quirindi. We chose this area as it affords views over three different geographic zones, to the west you look out over the Liverpool ranges and plains. To the south you can keep an eye on the Hunter Valley activity, whilst to the north you can also sight any activity that may build on the Northern Tablelands.

The first storm of the day comes off the Liverpool ranges.Heavy rain and hail begins to fall from the first storm.

By 12.30pm a storm was active to our west, It started on a high part of the Liverpool ranges called Coolah tops and was now drifting east onto the hot plains. There was also major activity apparent in the Hunter Valley with a storm complete with flanking line visible. It was a cruel choice for the chasers, one group wanted to head to the Hunter where supercell chances where higher, myself and others wanted to sick to the the storm we had in front of us. In my estimation it was already hailing, but at the same time looked to be now outflow dominated. A radar update informing us that a storm in the Hunter had gone ' red ' on radar saw the chasers split. ( Red equated to rainfall rates of 100mm an hour or greater, usually hail ).

With the chasers in three groups our smaller team stuck to the Quirindi storm. After about an hour it had indeed weakened, but its outflow boundary had penetrated into the hot plains air ( 32C ) lifting it and fresh activity was rapidly growing on the northern flank of the old storm. Over the next 6 hours we followed this erratic outflow line, as cell after cell pulsed then died only to be replaced by another just a little further north. Anvil thunder was almost constant, surprising for such small storms.

Another microburst from this now severe storm near GunnedahTHE CHASE MOBILE GETS A WASH & HAIL WAX
Around 6.30pm on the outskirts of Gunnedah a more organised and larger storm developed. As we followed the storm out of town towards the NW we were taken by surprise by a strong microburst. At one stage I had to pull over as I simply could not see the road ahead. Small twigs were flying horizontally with the rain and now small hail. The wind had some gust that may have topped 100kph, parked on the side of the road the wind was strong enough to blow rain from the windscreen in large rivulets, as if driving at full speed with rainX. In the space of several seconds the wind completely reversed direction blasting the other side of the car with the rain and hail mix. When the wind settled we headed NW in attempt to get out of the rain so we could get photos. It soon became apparent that winds had indeed been strong with several large tree branches down, some completely over the road. We later learnt that a tree fell onto a house, whilst another farmhouse lost it's roof.

Over the next 90 minutes the storm persisted east of us and pulsed several more microbursts. We headed back to town with the intent of calling it a day, but decided on one last look on the outskirts of town. Electrical activity had now picked up, so we settled down to watching the lightning show until 9.30pm when finally we driven indoors by a small cell developing over our heads.

A great day, and catching up with the other chasers by phone that revealed that all scored severe storms. The Hunter crew had scored a damaging supercell. I was pleased that all crews suceeded.

The images below show some turbulence in a weak microburst.

The storm persisted for an hour or two after dark giving a lovely lightning show ( click to see full image )

Nice lightning show east of Gunnedah.

A photo taken earlier in day shows a rain shaft being undercut by outflow of a storm further south ( right )

Outflow from a nearby storm cuts into a rain shaft.



The MSL reveals a significant trough over most of the state. Lift Index figures were also negative across much of the state. You would have scored a thunderstorm anywhere except for the far NE today. LI's are questionable considering supercell storms formed in the upper Hunter valley ( Approx 32.30S, 151E ). Helping the supercell situation were favorable upper level winds - see the 200hpa winds chart, note that the scale is in metres a second, (* 1.942 to get knots ). This was the first day of the chase in which upper winds were at least moderate.