Inland storm chase near Glentunnel

Unfortunately for this report I seem to of lost all the larger images files, I just couldn’t find them for the life of me on my hard drive…. perhaps I deleted them accidentally? A true crime when thunderstorms are involved but perhaps I did, so just the thumbnails are here to view. Of course we took video footage and I still have that so feel free to watch the clip below and enjoy!. 

This day started out nice and sunny, a good sign. Colder air aloft was encroaching eastwards over the center of the South Island, a look at the Invercargill and Paraparaumu (Wellington) soundings weren’t conclusive of too much happening but the colder air was between these areas.

I meet Steve in Town and we saw good Cu congestus to the west over or near Darfield which looked the obvious place to head for. Temps were nearish 19/20 C and dewpoints around 13 C which is pretty good with the relatively cold air aloft, it wasn’t that apetising but it would be enough. Shear wasn’t even worth thinking about as there was practically none there and directional wise wasn’t interesting either so we could count tornadoes out! lol. As we got closer to Darfield we realised the clouds were a little further west than first thought, we traveled on through to and just beyond Sheffield. We were now under these monster cauliflower clouds going up with some interesting bases around, the most interesting just southwest of us. We gave Steven Graham a txt to see if any lightning was going off and where if so. He was at home in Templeton at that point just about to leave to come out and join us. He said “Yes, to the west”, it wasn’t alot to go by but it didn’t matter as we knew it was this cloud we were staring at. Steven G left his house to go west as we went back through Sheffield to go along the foothills southwest of us. We then went inland more onto some shingle roads around the Whitecliffs area. We saw some nice bases and started to hear frequent scferics on the AM radio. It took until we passed Whitecliffs itself until we started to see some action. Steve saw some fork lightning to his right which I didn’t see although I did notice a general flash. Not very frequent lightning but enough to create some excitement!

Rain started to fall which then got heavy but no hail. There was not much visually to look at now as there was just alot of murk above us with lightning bolts striking out at times, a few of which were good! Streams were starting to form and the road was starting to get flooded by the rain with big puddles everywhere nearly covering the road at points so driving was slow.

We pulled over where we could to observe what was going on. The foothills despite being a good place to be for storms seemed a bit closed in, in that there wasn’t a big field of view. The rain plus window wipers constantly going back and forth didn’t make for exciting video as the lightning was not overly frequent at this point in time and unfortunately didn’t pick up much more for the rest of this chase although it did keep going for another hour or so.

We actually got to get out of the rain at one point and sit on the side of the road videoing without the constant noise of the window wipers, nothing much was going though. A rain core could be seen in the distance, horaay….lol. Just not the best visual type of storm but it was still great to be out there.

We got out of the shingle roads around Whitecliffs and got onto the inland scenic route where we pulled over at some monument thing where we kept vigil. Rain wasn’t that bad here and Steve videoed while I took a few snaps. Once again lightning wasn’t that frequent but we did see two or three nice bolts here, of course they had to happen just when Steve stopped recording! We also went through some nice rain cores that weren’t to heavy but looked cool before we went into them as can be seen in the pic above. I txt Steven Graham to see where he was up to, he was near Windwhistle and we were just south of Glentunnel so I suggested we meet in Glentunnel. There was quite heavy rain falling when we were there with big puddles building on the side of the road and the occasional lightning bolt still going off but thunder wasn’t all that loud. A new feature to this chase which was really handy was Steven Graham had live lightning information on the move which is awesome! Using his cellphone he can hook up to the internet with his laptop and get lightning information from his detector which is hooked up to his computer and the internet at his house. We can also look at other data but costs tend to be high doing things this way and lightning information is the most useful anyway so it works out great. We saw lightning was now leaving the area we were in at Glentunnel and heading east but not yet reaching Darfield. We got into our cars and were off.

This was probably one of the most interesting spectacles of the day. The rain as we got out of Glentunnel began to get really heavy and torrential, the heaviest rain I have experienced! Visibility was getting low and we were driving quite slowly, Steven Graham infront of us in his car was getting harder to see. Cars on the other side of the road going the other way were beginning to pull over because conditions were terrible! Very small hail also began to fall now but didn’t last long. The rain was awesome!

Finally we drove out of the heavy rain as we entered Darfield and continued through and stopped just out of the town to discuss what we just went though. You can see in the above photo the wall of rain coming down behind Steve (left) and Steven Graham (right). Some of the cloud bases looked good near us but the Cb was now dead marked by that awesome downdraft. We drove around a little still hearing big scferics on the radio but after another quick check on the tracker realised it was further to the north around Culverdon. After seeing this we decided to go home as by the time we would’ve got to the Culverdon storm it most likely would’ve been over so we went home.

A great day had by all, not the most active lightning wise but some definitely happened. Had it been a night time storm I possible would’ve been talking about all the lightning we saw.

Boxing Day storms near Timaru produce a funnel

Steven Williams was down in Timaru for Christmas 2004, while there a thunderstorm developed on Boxing Day just north of the town. Here is what he had to say:

“An interesting convergence line developed to the north of Timaru from about 5.30pm on boxing day with a dry northwest land breeze converging with a cool moist easterly sea breeze near the coast. An upper cold pool supplied sufficient instability for cb’s to form in what was quite a dry atmosphere. Funnel clouds, hail and lightning (CG’s) were observed within the line. This Canterbury storm would have produced large hail, though much of it would have fallen just off the coast. It was a dry low precip type storm, a classic hail maker”

It looks to of been quite a site with a series of such lovely isolated cumulonimbus clouds in Steven’s photographs. The first formed around 5.30pm as Steven says while a second higher based cell developed around 8pm in the same spot, both storms moving east offshore due to the upper westerly winds. Two funnels developed on the first cell which can be seen in the first and fourth photo below.

A shot here of the higher based cell, Steven saw lightning from it and suggests the precipitation seen falling will be hail.

Thunderstorm over Christchurch, I nearly got struck!

What a season 2004 had been in the summer and it just kept coming! I’m writing this in January 2012 so report details may be a little lite, the NZ Weather Forum is always great to look through the archives and remind ones self of what happened! I was at work in town however that didn’t stop a few photo opportunities and I even took a little bit of video where low and behold a lightning bolt must of gone off directly overhead as there is a big whack on the roof above me, the alarm system started going off! I remember that part quite well.

Cold air was sitting over the South Island with 500mb temperatures around -24 degrees, thank goodness for El Nino. This combined with a broad area of low pressure created a great thunderstorm right over Christchurch city in the middle of the day, the convergence zone must’ve been sitting right overhead.

I remember running out to the Waltham over bridge near where I was in town to take some photographs of dark clouds developing over the city just before midday.

Just after midday the lightning and thunder started going off and torrential rain also started to fall. I didn’t get any hail where I was but Stephen Burrows who worked near Northlands mall at the time got about 20 minutes of hail, stones were as large as 10 cent coins and it made car parking areas white! The hail blocked drains and caused the stock room where he worked to flood with 1 inch of water, he of course saw plenty of lightning aswell. The streets outside where I worked also got a little flooded and I hadn’t seen them like that before. Below shows the streets near me and Steven with some hail in his had an hour after it fell so it had melted away a bit by then.

While the thunderstorm was going off overhead with me indoors doing a video from my digital camera at the time a lightning bolt must’ve struck really close just overhead! As I was filming you hear a big “WHACK!” and it shudders me a we bit even as you can see by the movement in the video, the alarm system at work even started firing off, closest I’ve got to a lightning bolt ever and I’d rather it not get that close again! You can watch the video below, it also shows the torrential rain that was falling to with a bit of thunder at the end. I mention 30 meters away in the video but thinking about it, it could well have been much closer.

Steven Graham out in Templeton managed to video some lightning from where he was, the storm he noted was further to the east closer to the city. Here is a few lightning stills.

After this thunderstorm moved through it looked as though another might develop in the same area with dark clouds brewing again however from memory I don’t believe another storm formed of the electrical variety.

Jason Tippet watchful as always out in Kaiapoi took a few photos of dark clouds near him however unfortunately the storm just didn’t manage to come overhead where he was.