Central Victorian Chase

Chris Gribben

11th April 2003

After having worked all day couriering and driving through the (Vic) torrential downpours for 5 hours or so till midday, I was interested about midday or so to find out what the clearing edge was doing. After a couple of calls to Anthony Cornelius it was obvious that behind the rainband was extremely unstable due in part to a cold pool and upper trough over SW Vic. I managed to finish work around 5pm and got home to have a looksee for myself (and got asked what am I doing home ). After 30mins or so deliberation I decided to head NW along the Calder Fwy/Hwy toward Bendigo as a guy on IRC in Wycheproof had a good storm go through his town and it was heading SSE.

All the way up to Bendigo I could hear static but couldn't see any lightning and I thought the curse I have had on storms all season was going to continue. I drove through about 25km of anvil rain before arriving in Bendigo, and having seen the odd flash now and then, decided to call Anthony and find out what was going on as there was a lot of anvil cirrus around so was a little difficult to see what was going up and what was dying. He told me that Echuca was going off and I should try to get there if I could. As I had driven all day for work and was quite "driving" tired I held back going anywhere from Bendigo for a good 20-30mins and all of a sudden I could see a heap of flashes to the NE. I got fuelled and fooded up and went up the Midland Hwy towards Elmore and then took a turnoff that I  knew to Rushworth. By this stage the CC lightning was about 1 every 2 secs but they were pulsing about 50 times (some of them literally) so I drove E along the Rushworth Rd and tried to stay on the road while watching this display.

The lightning was that bright and strobing that I could have almost turned my lights off and still been able to see the road. There were also new cells popping out some nice CGs to my NW at this stage (probably between Wycheproof and Elmore or so). I hadn't taken footage till this point cos it wasn't really worth it but once I got clear of the Bendigo anvil rain I had the best view and started the old video while you drive thing :D. You can imagine my disgust when I saw the battery I had charged died on me cos it was stuffed. I got about 5 mins including a 8 pulser CG right down the middle of the road on screen. By this time I was on the road from Colbinabbin to Rushworth and the whole sky was lighting up and I was ringing ppl going off my head . It wasn't nonstop as such but truly amazing strikes that took up half the sky at times. I ended up sitting at a powernap spot just E of E Murchison for about 1 hr and just droooooooooooling over what I was seeing. I wanted to get closer but the rain that I had encountered under every anvil had stuffed up the view so I decided to stay back a bit and enjoy the view. At this stage I called the Vic BOM severe weather to see what they had on radar etc plus telling them what I was seeing (ie a fair bit of green flashes which in my experience means probable hail)

After a while some new cells formed to the NW and W of Murchison  and I thought as they are heading SE at about 40kmh I may as well go down the NEW Goulburn Valley Fwy and try and sit under a cell or two. It was good in theory but I kept on taking turn offs to look at the sick display to my E. In the end I reached Nagambie and called Andy and Kathy (SA chasers) just to rub it in (cos the SA ppl had their ASWA meeting tonight- not that I knew at the time I rang them) to find out what was happening. after a good 10min phone call which included me holding the phone to the sky and seeing if Kathy could hear the thunder and from the update they gave me I thought well may as well head towards home. I did as such but there were all sorts of different storms either starting or trying to start and hence stopping me from getting home hehe.

To cut a long story short from that time on, saw some occasional flashes in various directions but ended up driving back to Melb a VERY satisfied man - and even moreso cos my curse is broken (Macca especially will be most happy about this after our FDU chase in late Dec- early Jan (FDU = Frustration Down Under)

EXTREME THANKS to Anthony Cornelius (never go against his advice I swear - unless you don't rely on phone updates and can do it all yourself that is - just hope I have some lightning on tape so I can prove it happened) and Kathryn & Andy Wall for their updates.

Looking ok tomorrow and active Sunday and Monday also

Chris G ( insanely happy and 450km later)


  0651Z CSIRO image      9Z Colourised infrared image

Thanks to the Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO Marine Resources for use of the images.

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