Storm Event 6/7-9-13( Gascoyne, Wheatbelt, Lower West)

The most promising setup for thunderstorm development since last summer was forecast for most of the southern half of Western Australia on the 6th of September, and that prompted a certain trip for myself to again get out and try to capture this magical weather phenomenon on my camera.

Just over a week before the storms arrived I noticed on my daily check of forecasted weather that I should start preparing for a road trip up towards the lower Gascoyne region to capture my favourite part, the development.

My day started at around 1030 with a drive to Coorow via Bindoon and the Bindoon Bakery. No storm chase can start without a stop here. So after enjoying a curry lamb pie, I was off up the Great Northern Highway towards Midlands Rd and on to Coorow via Moora.

I arrived in Coorow just after 1330, and had another look at the radar, and satellite imagery to see if anything looked like it was going to develop in the area. I wasn’t in luck, with storms started to fire a long way east on a low pressure trough line cutting through the state. I didn’t worry to much about it, as the afternoon was young, and it gave me a bit of time to scout the area a bit. I am currently working on a time-lapse project and the fields around here work perfectly for one of the scenes I wanted to capture, so off I went to find one suitable for my project.
I found an incredible site and set my camera up and started my time-lapse of the clouds building and collapsing. I had some more time up my sleeve now as my time-lapse was set for 1hr, so I had a bit of a walk around playing on my iPhone.

Coming close to the end of my time-lapse I noticed some development a long way to my north and north-east, so I opened my laptop and again checked the lightning tracker, and it confirmed a major thunderstorm developing very quickly between 150-200km away. I was in two minds, either packed up my camera, stop the time-lapse and move now, or wait for the time-lapse to finish. I decided to wait, as I only had 10minutes or so remaining, but it was the longest 10minutes ever. I was pacing up and down the road, watching these thunderstorm cells popping up and going crazy. They were too far away to see any lightning, but they were large cauliflower clouds with an every increasing anvil spreading across the sky.

My time-lapse finished, I packed my gear up and raced east towards Latham.
I kept my eyes on the development, and I had to pull over near Latham to capture one of the storms.

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As I got to Latham, I had to turn south and now head towards Wubin for fuel, and to meet with fellow storm chaser and friend Steve Brooks (owner of Perth Weather Live, http://www.perthweatherlive.com).

I arrived in Wubin, and met with Steve. He had been watching the cells to the north as well, so with a quick check of the radar to see the direction these cells were going, we saw that they were going to cross well south of Paynes Find to the north, and so the decision was made to get north, and find a spot to set up and capture these systems as they passed us by.

While we were driving the sun started to set and the thunderclouds become illuminated with incredible colours. It was incredible to witness. We were so focused to get to our spot that we missed the opportunity to capture the sunset at its best, but, we still still got a bit of colour and you can see that how it would’ve been incredible 5-10mins before hand.

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When we arrived at our location, we set up and started to capture the storms in the distance. One was to our North-East, one was t our North-West. Both were firing on all cylinders. Flashing, and sparking everywhere. Every second multiple strikes illuminated the clouds. So what did I do. I set up my time-lapse to capture it. I havent finished processing that yet, but when I do, I will post a link to the page it will be hosted on.

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Then the night really began.

A shot of a meteor flying over first cells of the night to the north.

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As the first cells passed over and headed east, the skies to the west now started to light up. Cells were quickly developing to our west, and were going nuts!!

A shot of the Milky Way with the storms firing underneath.

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Large amounts of rain mixed with hail were falling from incredible formations in the clouds.
Something about the structure I just love underneath thunderstorms.

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Lightning was all around

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One of the final cells that passed over before I had to make the long drive home.

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I had to leave, as I had to get back to Perth. The drive home was very eventful. Large hail, strong winds, lightning all around.

An extremely eventful night, but I am so glad I was able to witness it, and not on my own either. Cheers Steve, it was so great to have someone else there, yelling out as much as I was!! 🙂

I just hope this is an indication of a very active spring/summer storm season in the Midwest and Wheatbelt.

More photos to come.

Till next time.

Lower Midwest / Wheatbelt / Northern Lower West Storm Event

Everyone were on edge today as thunderstorms were expected to develop through the Lower Midwest, the Wheatbelt and northern parts of the Lower West districts of Western Australia.
After hearing the possibility that thunderstorms could develop today, and from having discussions last week, and following the advice of others,  I decided that the best place to head would be Coorow. A small farming town about 2 1/2hours drive north.  There are a couple of ways you can drive to Coorow, but I made sure that my trip there included a stop at the Bindoon Bakery for one of their award winning pies. It didn’t disappoint.

Now that my stomach was satisfied, I was now on my way to Coorow, with only one more stop in Moora to see what the charts were doing, and then to decide really where my chase was going to take me for the day.

I arrived in Coorow believing that I was going to arriving with storms already developing. They were not. It was a nice 29C, a tad humid, and only a few clouds about. My initial feeling was it just didn’t feel like a place where storms were going to develop.
After deciding that Coorow wasn’t really doing anything for me, I decided that a quick trip back to Moora (90kms away) was the only way to go.
On the way back the clouds started to grow and by the time I got to Moora it was fairly evident that storms were definitely on their way.
I sat down again and decided where the best place to go and watch the storms develop, I decided to head west towards Dandaragan.

I got only 10km out of Moora, when I decided to pull over and get my first shots of the day, a quickly developing cell that looked to be around the Watheroo area.

These storms were just developing everywhere, and I was getting ready for a couple of hours of driving and chasing to get in the right position for photos.

When the most northern storm was getting a little close for comfort I jumped in the car and raced about 5km up the road. Just enough time to snap another photo of the cell now really developed and heavy rain starting to fall.

After a very loud rumble of thunder roared overhead, I thought it would be a good time to jump back into the car and head toward Dandaragan.

Again I pulled over just outside the town to take another photo (panorama) of the approaching storm.

After this photo, very heavy rain and small hail hit the area. It was pretty surreal to be parked on the side of the road in the middle of the cell.
I knew I had to get back in front of this cell so I headed through the rain and while driving as carefully as possible eventually got through it. I got to Dandaragan with the wind blowing strong and the cell just minutes behind. I don’t know if Dandaragan got hit at all, because the storm looked like it was just going to pass to the east of the town.

I headed south of Dandaragan towards Regans Ford. I stopped at the CBH depot and had a clear view of the storms to the south. I set my camera up just outside my car and tried a new technique of connecting a 10stop filter to my camera. I have learned that this doesn’t work after knowing that I certainly had CGs in frame and then after reviewing the shot, not one strike on film 🙁

I packed my gear and headed towards Orange Springs Rd off Brand Hwy and bolted to the western end to Cowella Rd, and managed to snap this photo

I then headed south towards Dirigan Rd off Cowella Rd and managed to capture this strike on video. (snapshot)


This is another shot facing west off Cowella Rd

I was now tracking parallel with the storm heading south along Cowella Rd, and observed plenty of CGs and CC strikes.

I got to Gingin Brook Rd and headed towards Military Rd and headed south along there till I got to Wanneroo Rd. By now it was quieting down quite a bit and so I headed into the Pines off Smokebush Rd to get some mammatus cloud shots.
This is taken as the sun was going down and pointed straight up in the sky.

That was the final shot for the day, I drove a total of 604km. Not a bad effort.

Till the next storm…..