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

Day 7, 1st December 2000 - Gunnedah to Hastings Point, 579kms, One weak storm, close to a severe storm.
Daylight at Gunnedah revealed slate grey skies and a cooler south wind. This situation was certainly not on the menu, well at least not until later. But dinner had arrived at breakfast time so to speak. There was only one option, to head as far NE as quick as possible to get ahead of the trough again.

We drove trough steady rain for the next three hours. Around 11am at Armidale on the Northern Tablelands we encountered several storms embedded in the rain mass. Not ideal chasing at all. In fact it was cold. At a refuel stop at Armidale is was shivering. We pushed further north to Glen Innes, here we at last broke out of the cool air into a sky of broken Cu with gusty NW winds. We had some lunch at Glen Innes all the time watching the sky. We watched several Cu develop into small cells only to be picked up by the strong jet stream and moved east rapidly. I did not like the situation, the cells were weak and moving way too fast to catch, further more the NW wind was very dry. We pushed north to Tenterfield were the situation looked even more grim, here the NW wind was warmer and there was a complete absence of Cu northwards. I became suspicious of pre frontal NW winds, these winds are the bane of chasing on the coast of New South Wales during early Spring as they set up a dry line type situation and kill off all convection in their wake ( remember on the coast we cannot chase eastwards, so once the dryline is encountered kiss the storms goodbye ).

We received some weather updates at Tenterfield, it was a complex synoptic situation. There were storms even 500kms south of the front triggered by a upper cold air pool, this same pool had caused the widespread rain and embedded thunder back southwards. The NW winds were being drawn into and eroding the northern edge of this system. However 150kms east on the coast the NE sea breeze was still alive. Our group decided on the 150km dash for the coast. The road had other intentions. The 150kms between Tenterfield and Casino is a chasers nightmare, reduced speed corner after corner, a drop in about 1000m of altitude and a tall forest. If that was not bad enough the road followed steep creek and river valleys.

This storm was far more impressive then the photo shows.BACK TO THE 70'S
Nearing the coast at Casino we noted a line of persistent congestus was starting to form into storms. We were about 50kms from the line when suddenly it exploded into life with great boiling updrafts. East of Casino and the temperature suddenly plummeted, the dry NW wind was replaced with a cooler seabreeze and moisture. The storms were firing on a small dryline situation. Having finally come so close our next problem was that we had run out of chase routes, we were close enough to see lowerings and a hail shaft, even the hear thunder, but the storms where moving NE into hilly terrain dominated by the ancient volcanic shield of Mount Warning. Quite beautiful being clothed in sub tropical rainforest, but not chasing territory with poor roads winding around steep hills and forest and hippy's from the 1970's walking down the middle of the road. We decided what the heck and pursued the storm NE, hoping that a storm may build slightly south of the line. We almost caught the storms at the small village of Nimbin. Nimbin is a alternative lifestyle area and the local crops are the types not listed on any futures markets. After 90 minutes of scenic rainforest driving we emerged back into open land at Murwillumbah. The storms by now were well and truly north.

But all was not lost we were back into humid NE seabreeze and there was convection occurring to our west. This produced a small storm around sunset. We followed this storm to Hastings Point on the coast where from a headland we watched CG's about 5km away at Kingscliff. The storm was quickly followed by another so we had about 90 minutes of activity.

The next day was a return home trip of 890kms. In the wake of yesterdays complex situation a SE wind had established along the whole NSW coast, shutting down action for the whole state - for the first time in about 2 weeks !


The charts reveal that today was a major shift in weather compared to the previous week. On the surface chart high pressure was ridging from the west, whilst a weakening trough and front lay over the NE of the state. Thickness was reducing over the southern half of the state with colder and drier air spreading through the middle layers. This cooler middle air triggered extensive cloud rain areas in the wake of the front. Further evidence of the drying can be found by comparing the 700hpa level RH chart to that of previous days, it is almost the opposite ! Today the best storms formed near Grafton and moved north. ( Approx 29.30S, 153E ). The winds chart hints at the weak dryline situation we encountered. If you look between 28S and 30S on the coast you will see W and NW winds these met the seabreeze ( not marked well ) near Casino. A stronger SE change is also moving up the coast.