The Richmond - Windsor Electrical Storm - 18th December 2000
by Jeff Brislane
Jimmy's report of the same storm is here
I had been watching the development of dark clouds on the Blue Mountains behind my house all afternoon. I went outside for the tenth time to look when I heard a distant rumble! Thunderstorm! I had just gotten a new camera only two weeks before and I was hanging for a storm to try it out!
Within 10 minutes I was in my car and heading East for a vantage point to view the developing storm. I drove into Glenmore Park towards where they were clearing the land for new homes and found a nice hill free of obstructions with a good view to the west. I grabbed my camera and tripod out of my car and set them up in the hope of capturing some daytime lightning photos. I set the F-stop on my camera to 32, which brought the shutter speed down to 2 seconds and started taking pictures. The Storm evolved nicely through different stages with a couple of lowered areas and plenty of cg lightning.
I had probably watched the storm for about 40 minutes when it started to come off the ranges over Emu Plains. Thatís when the rain really started. And with the storm now getting away from me and heading towards the NNE I decided to give chase.
I left Glenmore Park and headed up the Northern Road through Penrith. By this stage the base of the storm was intensely black, but having no film left and no time to stop and get any I couldnít take any photos (doh!). I came to the crossroads and decided to take Londonderry Road as it looked to be heading straight into the core. Time to core-punch!
I caught the core of the storm at Londonderry and boy was it intense. I saw about 5 to 10 flangs as I drove through Londonderry, with at least 3 of them hitting the RAAF radio towers. At this point I would like to remind people that deliberately punching through the core of a powerful storm is a pretty dangerous thing to do. You just never know what you might drive into especially when your visibility has been reduced by intense rainfall. Lucky for me there was no hail, just torrential rain and intense lightning.
My storm chase basically ended when I came into Richmond. I was going to drive straight through and keep with the core but when I drove into Richmond it was in a state of chaos. There were traffic lights out everywhere and at the level crossing next to the golf course had gone haywire, the lights were on and the gates were down and I sat there for a few minutes in the traffic when I realised that they werenít going up and there was no train coming!
I turned around and headed back to Richmond Road. I turned east and followed it down to George Street and then turned north again. I was back in pursuit but I had lost at least 30 minutes. I was now coming into South Windsor when I saw the police turning people around up ahead. I knew that the underpass below the railway line at South Windsor must have flooded so I turned off George Street and headed over to the level crossing just east of the underpass. When I got back onto George Street at the old hospital I headed north again to Pitt Town. On arrival at Pitt Town I knew that following the storm now was a waste of time as I had lost about an hour trying to get through Windsor and Richmond. And it was rapidly heading North into bad chasing country.
So after driving around Pitt Town and looking at some local flooding I headed back home. What better way could you spend an afternoon?
Updated: 7th December, 2002
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