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NSW North Coast Supercell Chase: Wednesday 5th January 2000
by Michael Bath

05/01/00 2.34pm Aussie Weather email update by John Graham


Issued at 1341 on Wednesday the 5th of January 2000

This advice affects people in the following weather districts:

Northern Rivers

Thunderstorms are forecast within the advice area this afternoon.
Some of these are expected to be severe, bringing large hailstones,
destructive winds and very heavy rainfall.

The STATE EMERGENCY SERVICE advises that as storms approach people should:
 * put vehicles under cover
 * move indoors away from windows

During and after storms people should:
 * take extreme care when driving
 * beware of fallen trees and power lines
 * keep away from creeks and drains as you may be swept away

A cell's just about to hit here in Ballina .......up to yellow on the radar...thunder almost continuously here.

05/01/00 4.11pm Aussie Weather email update by John Graham

Just had a nice storm go through here, had hail the size of $2 coins in town,an unconfirmed report of golf ball size at East Ballina....had 22.6mm rain in 30 mins here. Some C/G's VERY close to the house, was chatting to Jimmy on ICQ when the room lit up like a Christmas tree & thunder at the same time, it was then I thought it would be a good time to get off the 'puter............
John from Ballina

NSW North Coast Supercell Chase Report by Michael Bath

  • Chase map for 5th January 2000 [139Kb]. Distance covered: 80km.

    Thanks to John Woodbridge for the beautiful piece of reverse psycology on the weather - it worked well here!

    Signs this morning were not hopeful, with not a cloud in the sky and moderate W-SW winds blowing (I think?). Later, there were a few patches of altocumulus lenticularis but mostly towards the north. But very quickly late morning a field of cumulus developed and by 12.30pm congestus was developing W of Lismore.

    Rous Mill 1.26pm looking WSW Rous Mill 1.39pm looking WSWI left my place at 1pm with a cell gathering strength SW of Lismore. It was very slow in developing at first with a couple of turkey towers, and anvil rain or virga spreading out in front towards the east. But updrafts kept persisting. By 2pm I was near Wyrallah, S of Lismore and in some rain from the developing cell - there was no lightning observed at this stage. Either two cells got going very close together or the one split into two - I'm not sure - but soon there was heavy precipitation just to my N with its boiling updraft visible to my NW, then a gap to the second one just to the W-SW. The W-SW one dominated for the moment but as I moved further NW it weakened and probably collapsed after a while.

    3km S of Tuckarimba 2.06pm looking WSW 3km S of Tuckarimba 1.58pm looking NW
    The north cell really took off at this stage (~2.20pm). As I was now W of the cell, it became very high constrast and just beautiful to observe.
    South Gundarimba (7km S of Lismore) 2.20pm looking E Parrots Nest (8km SSW of Lismore) 2.31pm looking E Parrots Nest (8km SSW of Lismore) 2.31pm looking SE Parrots Nest (8km SSW of Lismore) 2.43pm looking E
    Towards the NE a shelf cloud or gust front was developing, while heavy precipiation was developing at the rear (SW). Lightning was occurring regularly now with quite a few CGs observed, some of which were close by to me from out the back of the cell and along a line of congestus spreading further west. The storm moved slowly NE and all the time base lowereings and scud were observed to the left with the very heavy precipitation to the right (from my view looking eastward). Powerful new updrafts kept forming on the NW flank. The whole storm structure did seem to be rotating with quite a marked clear area in the middle. The more distant cloud to the NE on the gust front was moving towards the left (north), while at the back (NW and W) I could see it moving towards the right (south), and in the middle a lighter area. This persisted for the whole time I watched the storm from this time (~2.40pm). Needless to say it was an awesome sight ! With each new boiling updraft spearing up the flank, there were more and more lowerings, prongs, and scuds on or close to ground level.
    Parrots Nest (8km SSW of Lismore) 2.45pm looking E Parrots Nest (8km SSW of Lismore) 2.53pm looking E Parrots Nest (8km SSW of Lismore) 2.57pm looking E Parrots Nest (8km SSW of Lismore) 3.00pm looking E
    Parrots Nest (8km SSW of Lismore) 3.03pm looking E Parrots Nest (8km SSW of Lismore) 3.08pm looking E

    I left my location SW of Lismore after 3pm trying to get closer and to watch the new cells develop along a spectacular flanking line towards the NNW. Of course I got stuck by a frigging Frigmobil semi trailer just leaving Lismore and going slow! AAARRGGH. Anyway, I soon reached McLeans Ridges and watched the spectacle which was probably over Cape Byron now (3.30pm). It was huge - clouds tops were over 15ks in height or more from my guess, backshearing was eveident as each new updraft developed and the persisting gust front was still visible out to the NE and the heavy precpitation to the east (southern part of cell). CGs were occurring in this region also. And still the whole structure appeared to have an overall rotation (anticlockwise if viewed from above). Lowerings and all sorts of features teased on the developing area, but no funnels or obvious wall clouds were evident.
    McLeans Ridges 3.27pm looking ENE McLeans Ridges 3.32pm looking ENE McLeans Ridges 3.34pm looking ENE McLeans Ridges 3.34pm looking ENE

    McLeans Ridges 3.41pm looking NE McLeans Ridges 3.45pm looking NE McLeans Ridges 3.49pm looking NE McLeans Ridges 4.07pm looking N The storm became obscured somewhat around 4pm and nothing more was developing (apart from over the water, and to the north) so I decided to go home. I stopped briefly to photograph a cell which had suddenly strengthened while passing over the ranges north of Lismore. It had developed around 2pm near Kyogle but although persisting, was weak for the 2 hours preceeding.

    The main storm may have been a supercell - structurally it took on the right appearance, was rotating, developed around 1pm and possibly split with the right mover collapsing. The storm is still going strong off the coast noth of Byron Bay as I write this at 5pm.

    The surface temperature in the Far North Coast region reached about 34 today, several degrees above forecast, as a SE change approached. The change was visible from early afternoon as a line of broken stratocumulus / roll cloud formation extending from just south of the storm and inland towards the WSW. It probably played a significant part in the strength of the storm.

    The following two photos were taken from Maclean, 60km S of Lismore just after 3pm - note the overshoot in photo 26 which can be seen in verticle photo 14 above also.
    Maclean 3.05pm looking N Maclean 3.05pm looking NNE

    Severe Storm Advice

    Issued at 1716 on Wednesday the 5th of January 2000
    The Severe Thunderstorm Advice for the Northern Rivers valid this afternoon
    has been cancelled as severe thunderstorms have now cleared out of the area.
    Earlier this afternoon severe thunderstorms affected the Ballina, Lennox
    Head and Byron Bay areas bringing large hail and very heavy rainfall.

    Storm Photographs by Halden Boyd

    Images of the January 5th 2000 cell which hit Ballina/Lennox Head/Byron Bay at 3pm taken looking NW/N/NE from Evans Head 16 nautical miles to the south.


    These images from Bureau of Meteorology
  • Grafton local scale 200001050250 - 200001050600z (1.50pm to 5.00pm local) [60Kb]

    Satellite Images

    These images from Bureau of Meteorology
  • GMS-5 Visible 5pm 05/01/2000
  • GMS-5 Infrared animation 2000010500z - 2000010512z (11am to 11pm 05/01/2000 local) [595Kb]


    These images from Energex
  • Lightning strikes 200001050333 - 200001050448z (2.33pm to 5.34pm local) [120Kb]
    KEY: white = strikes in past 5 mins, red = past 5-10 mins, yellow = past 11-20 mins, green = past 21-30 mins, blue = past 30-45 mins

    MSL Analysis Charts

    This image obtained from Bureau of Meteorology.
    2pm local 5th January 2000

    Document: 0001-01.html
    Updated: 2nd November, 2001
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