22nd March 2014

With out a doubt, the 2014 summer storm season has been a big let down so far here in Western Australia. Up until today that is.

I had some idea late on Friday evening that I would be heading out the following day. After looking at all the charts and models, I narrowed my chase location to an area somewhere around Wongan Hills. So at about 11am, my son Connor and I loaded the car and headed over to pick up my friend and chase buddy, Ramon. We grabbed a few supplies from IGA and headed up Wanaroo Road before turning east. We picked up the Great Northern Highway and headed north towards the target area.

It was clear that by the time we got to New Norcia, we would not have to go as for north as previously planned. So we sat in a clearing on the edge of town for an hour or so and watched the convection around us. We even had a few big and very cold drops of rain. After so long with no rain here in WA, it was almost a novelty. Before long, we made the call to head further east. We passed through the small town of Yerecoin and continued east for a few Km’s before turning south onto Woods Road. We found a fantastic location on top of the highest point around to stop and watch was developing all around us. Click on the image below to see the 360° version.

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There were some fair sized cumulus towers developing to the north and north-east which were producing pileus caps. They form as a parcel of air is shoved upward by the rapidly rising convective tower. Moisture in the air above the tower condenses directly into an ice fog as the air rises and cools, forming the pileus.

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These towers formed and then collapsed several times over the next hour and a half. One that was directly north of us dropped a few bolts of lightning, but it soon collapsed also.

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To make things a little interesting, there was also a fire burning to our north-west, so some of the photo’s we got have an orange colour to them because of the smoke.

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To the west, we were treated to an awesome display as the sun shone through a gap in the clouds.

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As the evening began to cool, the atmosphere  seemed to get less dynamic, but further south we could see that things were just getting going. A quick look at the radar confirmed that there were significant cells developing off the coast near Perth. So we packed up and headed south. After a quick bite to eat in Bullsbrook, we headed over to the coast to see what was going on. As we got closer, we could see the western sky lighting up with flashes of lightning. We made our way to Ocean Reef Marina and parked the car overlooking the ocean towards the south-west. It wasn’t long before we started to see some significant CG lightning dropping somewhere south of Rottnest Island. We set up our cameras and settled in for a couple of hours as we watched the storm cell move slowly in a south-easterly direction. Whilst there, we bumper into fellow storm chaser and photographer Mark Finley. The storm was a long way from us and there was a fair bit of light pollution, so the following images are not as good as I would have liked, but they give you an idea.

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The following images were taken by my son, Connor. Whilst I was chatting to Mark (meaning ‘whilst I wasn’t watching’) he thought he would have a go behind my camera. He was pretty excited as you can imagine.

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As the cell moved further south, it seemed to start getting less intensive. So we called it a night and headed back down the freeway. As we got closer to the city, we could see that the storm had got active again as it crossed the coast. We made a last minute call to see if we could get some more images from the bank of the Swan River. We found a great spot just west of the Old Swan Brewery, set up the cameras and started shooting. I’m so glad we did. The light show on the other side of the river was amazing. I had some trouble keeping the camera steady because the wind was so gusty, but I managed to capture some CG’s.

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Eventually, the storm moved further south-east and the lightning became obscured by rain, so we packed up once again and headed home. All the way home we watched as this system belted the outer southern suburbs with strike after strike. You can see some of the many images sent into the Perth Weather Live Facebook page here.

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed the lightning and thunder and rain as much as we did. Lets hope we can a have a few more before the season finishes. On an interesting side note, today  is the 4 year anniversary of the March 22 super storm that dumped large hail on Perth. You can read about it here.

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