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Northern Rivers Storm Outbreak Part Two: Tuesday 25th to Friday 28th October 2005
Report compiled by Dave Ellem and Michael Bath

Chase text by Dave Ellem

Tuesday October 25th

It was another mixed bag setup - good instability (CAPE around 2000), great speed shear and turning in the low levels, however it looked as though there was perhaps a slight lack of moisture, along with weaker shear in the mid and upper levels. There was also a bit of capping to contend with, but temps over 30C with DPs in the high teens/low twenties ensured this should be overcome. The sky remained mostly clear during the morning, with cumulus clouds bubbling away till after lunch, when some bigger development began to take place on the ranges. Michael, Ray Mullens and myself decided to head out after 2pm to somewhere between Casino and Kyogle. Storms were expected to head SE again, so anything that formed on the Border Ranges NW of Kyogle was ideal. On the drive out cells were popping up to our S and NW. While the ones to the S looked nice, they were out of reach once again. We stopped near the intersection of the Summerland Way and Lismore-Kyogle road to watch some good looking development to our NW. A CG was observed not too long after arriving, and was met with much chaser excitement!



Sadly, this cell collapsed around 4pm, and we were left waiting for more development. We decided to head to a favourite lookout at Kyogle. Nice cells to our SSE were teasing us during the tedious wait for more development to our NW. From 4.30pm onwards, Cjs, quite strong at times, would punch up to our N and NW, but much to our frustration, the cells just could not get going. It almost seemed as though it was too dry. Of course the storms near the coast to our SE looked huge!



At around 5.30 pm our test of patience finally paid off. The convection which had bubbled for hours finally managed to push to new heights - above the 10km mark! As clear air CGs began to appear and the storm began to produce a nice anvil, we decided to head N of Kyogle to get a little closer.



Within the space of a few minutes, another cell just NW of the one which had first taken off exploded. The short time it took to grow into a fully fledged cumulonimbus cloud was unbelievable! We stopped in a clearing just N of town and watched in awe at the powerful convection around 10km north of us. Clear-air CGs, hailshafts with rainbows, base lowerings, corkscrew updrafts, anvil knuckles…what more could you want!!



The temptation to get ahead of the storms to see what base features they were producing was too great, so we headed back the way we came with the aim of getting to Lismore and heading NE to intercept the cells. I had the camera out the window numerous times on the drive, still impressed with some of the updraft and anvil structure - especially with the late afternoon colours!!



The cell seemed to be heading E, which again was the wrong direction for us (a feature of this storm outbreak!), but it soon weakened after we got to Lismore. We called it quits for the afternoon, however convection was still developing in all directions after sunset - always a great sign that storms will continue into the evening and produce lightning. At around 7.30pm, near constant lightning from a line of cells to our NW round to our SE tempted Michael and I to head to Tregeagle for a look. We setup the cameras to photograph the lightning, however NE winds of around 30kn were making it really difficult to keep the cameras from blowing away! So we moved to a less windy position and set the car up as a wind break, with our cameras on the SW side. There we proceeded to take lots of lightning photos over the next couple of hours, with Rodney rocking up halfway through the show for some photos too!





Around 9.30pm Michael and I headed back to his place. On the drive back several CGs occurred within a few kilometres, so we decided to setup the cameras again at his place. As we were, a CG hit within about 1km of the house right in the valley in front of us!! It made an impressively loud bang!! Rain soon moved over and I decided to call it a night, as I was pretty exhausted and had to get up to do a uni exam in the morning!



Wednesday October 26th

Instability was a little less than the previous day, with -4 LIs and CAPE around 1200 in the Northern Rivers. Moisture and a bit of cloud was also a problem. There was a slightly stronger cap, and shear was on the weak side. Not surprisingly, storms mostly developed on the ranges to the SW, W and NW, and didn't really move much. Some lightning was observed to the NW around dusk, but no chases took place and only one photo was taken of a cell in the evening!




Thursday October 27th

Fellow chasers had been harassing me for almost 7 days to look at the LI and CAPE forecast charts for this day because of the huge instability it was hinting at. I hate looking at the models more than 24-48 hours at as it often seems so unreliable! As it turned out though, the LI values this day were around -6 to -8 over the region, with CAPE values around 2500. Days with instability figures like that can be quite memorable, with powerful storms often developing as a result of the high levels of energy available. So there was plenty of excitement this day. Of course, it seems that no storm setup is perfect, and shear was the one area that looked less than ideal. While there was excellent turning in the low levels, it seemed as though storms were going to struggle to move very fast. Still, high CAPE setups do tend to reduce the need for shear for severe storms to develop, so there was still plenty of hope! Around 1.30pm I noticed that a thick anvil had developed to my SW, with the cell located SW of Coraki.



It looked strong, so I headed into Goonellabah to meet up with Rodney and head out in the Rav. On the drive, a cell just N of my home really took off, with really crisp updrafts pushing out into a solid anvil with knuckles - an indication of the high CAPE. Rodney and I headed into Lismore to get fuel. I grabbed some shots of the development to our NE while waiting. Michael was observing this same storm to the NNE from his home, before also heading out on chase.



We made the decision to head after the original cell SW of Coraki, as we could pick some interesting base features. My brother rang when we were still N of Coraki asking if I was at Maclean as there looked to be a severe storm heading straight that way. So we continued as fast as legally possible to get to the Pacific Highway and head S. There was plenty of nice convection around and some mammatus under the anvil from the cell we were after, which was strangely heading SE.



It turns out it was a right mover of a splitting pair of storms. Despite our efforts, we missed the storm, but heard reports across the radios of hail up to golf ball size near Maclean. The left pair of the storm still looked nice, so we continued to just N of Iluka to try and intercept the cell. The trees along the Pacific Highway are a real pain, and make chasing down that way almost not worth the effort. We stopped on the beach for some photos, but the cell seemed to have decayed somewhat, though it still had a strong looking anvil.



An update from Michael revealed the storm was almost stationary and seemed to be back building. He was watching to the WSW from near Coraki.



So we decided to head to Coraki to meet up with Michael. We stopped on the Woodburn to Coraki road to observe a nice looking cell to our WSW. It was producing some great lightning and at one stage looked to be developing a gustfront. It seemed to be stationary too though. Rodney and I decided to try some back roads to get a little closer, while Michael had to head home. We ended up on a treed in road on the way to Elangowen whilst trying to get to that cell, and despite our efforts, it was weakening anyway, and a new cell was really taking off W of Casino. When the trees cleared we stopped to see the cell, which had some amazing mammatus under its anvil.



It was also putting out massive CGs and anvil crawlers, so we shot towards the Casino-Coraki road. Along the way we stopped again to try for some daytime CG shots. I managed to grab one which was pretty lucky!



It was now after 5.30pm, and Rodney and I thought we could see an interesting inflow band type feature through the rain, likely on the storms NW flank (updraft region). So we decided to head N of Casino for a look. Storm activity to our SW, while messy looking, was becoming really lightning active. As we headed on the Summerland Way out of Casino, experiencing some very close CG lightning, we began to emerge out of the rain area and a rotating updraft structure began to come into view!



I was amazed at how poor the contrast was until we were fully out of the rain. But as soon as we were N of the rain, the contrast in the rotating structure became really dramatic. We soon stopped to photograph the structure, which had a nice green tinge, and several inflow bands wrapping into the storms updraft. Lightning was shooting up the tower and spreading out into massive anvil crawlers which seemed to shoot a long way away to the E. It was an amazing sight!



We were almost right under the structure which made it hard to photograph, so we continued N to a nice spot near the Summerland Way - Lismore to Kyogle road intersection. While the initial rotating structure had decayed, a new rotating updraft had rapidly developed to our SW.



The structure soon evolved and merged into activity near Casino that was spreading N. Eventually a massive inflow band developed and extended well off to the NE, and fed into a nice rotating updraft region. Lightning was now going ballistic, with multiple, pulsating CGs and massive anvil crawlers occurring every few seconds. The storm soon began to look outflow dominant, with a gustfront developing and extending west.



A really intense looking lowering had now developed just under the updraft region where the inflow band was feeding in. It sure looked like there would be violent weather under this area! The contrast was fantastic with blues, purples and greens in the clouds, and lightning illuminating the rain curtain a pinkish colour!



While we were enjoying the show near Kyogle, Michael and Ray Mullens captured some anvil crawlers and mammatus from further east.



The outflow soon blew through and the storm was almost upon us, so we made for a quick exit towards Lismore! Outflow winds on the drive back were very strong, and CGs began to rain down over us! Lightning was now constant, with several massive flangs occurring just outside the vehicle as we dashed E! There was a lot of excited yelling taking place on the drive back!! With a solid line of storms developing, we decided to head back to Michaels for some lightning photos, encountering very heavy rain just near his place as we arrived. We setup the cameras and a few very close lightning bolts were captured. The lightning display was amazing, with the sky constantly alight, and it was a great end to an amazing afternoon and evening of storm chasing!



Friday October 28th

With only LI values of -1 and weak wind shear in the low to mid levels, not much really occurred on this day. Storms did form on the Border and Nightcap Ranges during the afternoon, producing some nice updrafts and a spectacular display of pileus! The storms weakened late that afternoon and no lightning was observed.





Check out Part One of this 8 day outbreak of storms in the Northern Rivers.


Radar

From Bureau of Meteorology

  • Grafton local scale loop 0100z to 1600z 25/10/2005 (11am 25/10 to 2am 26/10 local time)
  • Grafton medium scale loop 0100z to 1630z 25/10/2005 (11am 25/10 to 2.30am 26/10 local time)
  • Brisbane local scale loop 2200z to 1800z 25/10/2005 (8am 25/10 to 4am 26/10 local time)
  • Brisbane medium scale loop 2200z to 1900z 25/10/2005 (8am 25/10 to 5am 26/10 local time)

  • Brisbane local scale loop 0130z to 1230z 26/10/2005 (11.30am to 10.30pm 26/10 local time)

  • Grafton local scale loop 0100z to 1130z 27/10/2005 (11am to 9.30pm 27/10 local time)
  • Grafton medium scale loop 0100z to 1200z 27/10/2005 (11am to 10pm 27/10 local time)
  • Brisbane local scale loop 0300z to 1230z 27/10/2005 (1pm to 10.30pm 27/10 local time)

  • Brisbane local scale loop 0200z to 0800z 28/10/2005 (noon to 6pm 28/10 local time)


    Satellite Images

    From Weatherzone, MODIS: Land Rapid Response System and Bureau of Meteorology

    25/10/2005 noon to 11pm 25/10 local

    26/10/2005 05z 3pm 26/10 local

    (click for larger view) 1.45pm 27/10 local

    27/10/2005 02z 27/10/2005 03z 27/10/2005 04z 27/10/2005 05z 27/10/2005 06z 27/10/2005 07z noon to 5pm 27/10 local

    4pm 28/10 local


    Analysis Charts

    From Bureau of Meteorology

    Brisbane sounding at 9am 25/10 local

    Brisbane sounding at 9am 26/10 local

    Brisbane sounding at 9am 27/10 local

    Brisbane sounding at 9am 28/10 local

    25/10/2005 06z

    26/10/2005 06z

    27/10/2005 06z

    28/10/2005 06z


    GFS Model Analysis

    From NOAA 25/10/2005 06z analysis

  • Liftex Index
  • CAPE
  • Relative Humidity surface
  • Relative Humidity 850 hPa
  • Relative Humidity 700 hPa
  • Relative Humidity 600 hPa
  • Relative Humidity 500 hPa
  • Relative Humidity 300 hPa
  • Temperature (C) surface
  • Temperature (C) 850 hPa
  • Temperature (C) 700 hPa
  • Temperature (C) 500 hPa
  • Temperature (C) 300 hPa
  • Winds (knots) surface
  • Winds (knots) 925 hPa
  • Winds (knots) 850 hPa
  • Winds (knots) 700 hPa
  • Winds (knots) 500 hPa
  • Winds (knots) 300 hPa
  • Winds (knots) 200 hPa

    From NOAA 26/10/2005 06z analysis

  • Liftex Index
  • CAPE
  • Relative Humidity surface
  • Relative Humidity 850 hPa
  • Relative Humidity 700 hPa
  • Relative Humidity 600 hPa
  • Relative Humidity 500 hPa
  • Relative Humidity 300 hPa
  • Temperature (C) surface
  • Temperature (C) 850 hPa
  • Temperature (C) 700 hPa
  • Temperature (C) 500 hPa
  • Temperature (C) 300 hPa
  • Winds (knots) surface
  • Winds (knots) 925 hPa
  • Winds (knots) 850 hPa
  • Winds (knots) 700 hPa
  • Winds (knots) 500 hPa
  • Winds (knots) 300 hPa
  • Winds (knots) 200 hPa

    From NOAA 27/10/2005 06z analysis

  • Liftex Index
  • CAPE
  • Relative Humidity surface
  • Relative Humidity 850 hPa
  • Relative Humidity 700 hPa
  • Relative Humidity 600 hPa
  • Relative Humidity 500 hPa
  • Relative Humidity 300 hPa
  • Temperature (C) surface
  • Temperature (C) 850 hPa
  • Temperature (C) 700 hPa
  • Temperature (C) 500 hPa
  • Temperature (C) 300 hPa
  • Winds (knots) surface
  • Winds (knots) 925 hPa
  • Winds (knots) 850 hPa
  • Winds (knots) 700 hPa
  • Winds (knots) 500 hPa
  • Winds (knots) 300 hPa
  • Winds (knots) 200 hPa

    From NOAA 28/10/2005 06z analysis

  • Liftex Index
  • CAPE
  • Relative Humidity surface
  • Relative Humidity 850 hPa
  • Relative Humidity 700 hPa
  • Relative Humidity 600 hPa
  • Relative Humidity 500 hPa
  • Relative Humidity 300 hPa
  • Temperature (C) surface
  • Temperature (C) 850 hPa
  • Temperature (C) 700 hPa
  • Temperature (C) 500 hPa
  • Temperature (C) 300 hPa
  • Winds (knots) surface
  • Winds (knots) 925 hPa
  • Winds (knots) 850 hPa
  • Winds (knots) 700 hPa
  • Winds (knots) 500 hPa
  • Winds (knots) 300 hPa
  • Winds (knots) 200 hPa


    Document: 200510-03.htm
    Updated: 18th December, 2005
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