STORM CHASERS

Reports

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Monday, 28th May 2012
Bright sparks southwest of Christchurch

Who would've thought, but another little storm chase for myself as we nearly get into winter! Well this time I didn't really have to go very far so that was a nice change, got some great views to.

A very cold upper pool of air (-30 to -34 °C 500mb) was due to move over the South Island during Monday and with it bringing showers with a chance of hail, thunderstorms looked more likely to me say south of Timaru (which didn't actually happen, cough cough). Steven Williams (NZStorm) on the New Zealand Weather Forum noted however on Sunday that he believed storms could form on the Mid and North Canterbury coast later on Monday, and when NZStorm says something thunderstorm wise I always take note as he has a vast knowledge of stormy type weather in New Zealand. Still it seemed like it might be difficult as I wondered with it being nearly winter there might just not be enough surface temperature and or moisture there to support storms, NZStorm was right though.

Around 4pm the clouds were looking unstable towards Banks Peninsula, so this showed some promise for the evening cold air.



 At 4.30pm a cell had started to come out of the Peel Forest area, why am I not surprised. Just before 5pm it became more organised and lightning started off in a line between Mayfield and Ashburton. I could've left home earlier but I was still a little weary if things would actually fire. Once I saw the strikes appear on the tracker I left from my place and by looking at the weather radars determined Birdlings Flat would once again be an ideal place to head to as the showers were moving in an angle towards that direction. Once I got some fuel in Halswell though the clouds looked threatening closer to where I was so I made a change of tack and went up to the top of Kennedys Bush Road instead. As it turns out that cell didn't become active for that long, I took a photo of it as it approached Christchurch hoping for a rouge lightning bolt to pop out. Some small hail fell when it moved over around 6.30pm. The colours with the twilight in the distance looked quite cool!

 

Hopes were fading (gee that happens alot with these reports! lol) but I decided to stay up the top of the hill as this line of showers moved over and then cleared, Stephen Burrows was out on the Old West Coast road and we both were talking about a new line that started forming along the length of the Rakaia River on the Plains. We could see it on radar and it came into view in the twilight from my position. Then I saw a flash! With new hope and clearing skies lightning photography chances just went up!

This new line only became active for about 10 or maybe 15 minutes at most, lightning wasn't overly frequent so I had to make the most of it. I didn't get any nice big Cg's unfortunately but got a few goodies. There is a plane moving across the sky in the 4th photo below, that's the reason for the streak of light in the top left.
 
   



Just after 8pm the line was beginning to move over and it started showering again so couldn't take photo's anymore apart from inside the car, the cell wasn't active anymore anyway so all good.



I waited some more but nothing else happened so headed home, on the way that new song with lightning in it started playing so made a small video clip. lol. I wanted to focus on photography versus trying to video at the same time hence I've got no video of lightning. I'll have to get a second tripod set up with the video camera on it in future so I can just leave it running.

Metservice MSLP maps: 0000z  0600z  1200z