2015 March 21 – Darling downs
We Usually would not expect a setup like this in march. The season was pretty good but we didn’t have a classic severe setups for a long time. During the week shaun and myself were keeping an eye on the forecast on the BSCH. We decided this would be a pretty great chase day. We knew the super cells would be in moree and north NSW but we couldn’t really drive there in the time we had. So we decided to hang back a bit to see if any cells would pop up in SEQ. We decided the best place to park up was in millmerran which is near the green dot in the image below. It provided the best setup for us to see a classic meso or super cell activity. Rikki , Shaun and myself head off in the early morning. We get to the target about 2 hours later. The day started off with LOW LEVELS of fog in toowoomba. This worried us a little as we were not getting the heating required to get a huge storm but at least we had moisture RIGHT! We were expecting a cell or two to carry large hail but nothing like what this storm ended up producing. 12cm at one point.
Here is the chase route we took in the day (give or take a few errors in GPS). We clocked up ~817km. Shows the approximate main cores of the cells path in green.
We met the storm out near Inglewood as we thought it may track more east before going north but it decided to turn early which means we needed to catch up with it. It’s original path was NE. So we thought it would be a best if we track east then north to get in front of it instead of going through the cell. As we approach leyburn we can see the cell in the distance over incredible chase country of flat farms. As we got closer some incredible amounts of CG lightning breezed by us , over us and in front. We were trying to keep out of the hail core so we could keep getting pictures and video. Unfortunately it moved very quickly so photos and videos were basically hop out click click click and run. We witnessed some crazy inflow tails, rising scud on the the west side of the cell. I mentioned to Rikki there would be a crazy hail core soon enough and we noticed the cell starting to split left about 10 minutes from Dalby. We powered on trying to keep ahead to get more footage. It caught us as we passed into Dalby. We decide to leave the LEFT split as time was running out for us and chase the outflow dominate cell on the way home. The left split ended up producing the incredible 12cm hail in chinchilla. It powered on for a couple hours after dumping hail most of the way according to the radar. The right cell which we decided to try to keep ahead of, well we chose a couple of wrong road the the storm over took us our road. Rikki said to me “Hey is that dust under that cloud?”. Why, yes it is! Some RFD was kicking up a huge amount of dust in front of the gust. We had to get in front of a line of trees before it hit as we didn’t want branches in the car. This was Rikki’s first time in an RFD blast so I got him to drive into it. SO much dust, it smelt of fertiliser, bits of hay was flying past the van and a couple of tree branches. Constant Straight line winds over 100km/h no gusting. Pretty crazy intense. We continued to drive to take video and pics of the outflow. The wind and torrential rain increased which left us blind for a few minutes, flash flooding was quick. We passed a chaser convention just outside of bowenville(?).
We decided to press on to find a clear slot in the rain to take lightning photos. The rain did not let up. We headed right down a gravel road to see if we could get into the clear slot down the road. Well the road soon turned into dirt, then mud. CRAP! We had no choice but to turn around as the it was flooded and muddy. As we made a 3 point turn we got STUCK. The back wheels sunk into the soft mud. Rikki got myself and shaun to put weight on the back wheels and rock the van. Well i was in the vans SIDE door, Shaun in the hatch. Rikki FLOORS the van and as that happens, tonnes of mud begins to fly at me covering my legs, the inside of the car and seats. We all had a good laugh. We got out luckily just before we lost the sunlight. We continued home.
Even though we didn’t get the structure and video shots we wanted. What a great day.
HERE IS A VIDEO AND SOME PICS! (Make sure you watch in HD (click the gear).