2009 TopEndDownUnder (Darwin, NT, Australia) Stormchase

Stormchase 29th November, 2009
When you think things cant get better...when you think you have seen the best of the Top End storms...Then on our last day it not only gets better but turns on some of the best storms this little black duck has ever seen. Today our day is tight we have to make a 6.15pm flight back to the land of stratocumulus (Victoria) so we carry all our baggage and head out east (again). Our target today is the heavyweight title holder for big storms in the Top End ...Fogg Dam. We sit around the observation deck sweating profusely in 37c and a Dp of 24, a few medium cumulus pop up and down then around 2pm a single shower erupts to our north, there is an alignment of deepening cumulus along what appears to be a sea breeze front gradually creeping inland. Within the hour this shower has grown to a large multicell booming out loud cracks of thunder surprisingly its approaching us rather fast riding its own outflow. We move further south and take in the broad view....We have a big one !. Thirty minutes later we are chasing a large rain free base north of Humpty Doo (again) but this ones different. A cell just to the southwest of a large rainfree base matures and sends a 'reverse' outflow towards the advancing 'nose' of the rainfree base region of a now huge tropical storm. A maelstrom results with twisting updrafts and funnels. The entire rainfree region of this huge storm spins sporadically dropping rotating lowerings and huge lightning bolts...this lasts for 15 minutes...we run about like march hares to get the best vista. After about 20 minutes the rainfree region is enveloped in a huge cascade of rain...too late for us to escape another immense tropical deluge..flash flooding 'flangs' and microbursts......Thanks Darwin for a wondrous storm week......

Report: Clyve Herbert

Photography: Jane ONeill / Clyve Herbert

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The first showers start along the seabreeze front north of Fogg Dam

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Today the showers are advancing towards the south

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A brilliantly plumaged male mannikin looks on

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Meanwhile, we hear the first thunder

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The magpie geese play in the last remaining waterhole in front of us

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The earlier showers send out an outflow boundary which rapidly grows deep cumulus

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Showers breaking out along the outflow boundary

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Storm starts to get large

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The cell to the left matures, while the main cell to the right advances

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A rain free base starts to develop interesting lowerings

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The main cell continues to advance towards the southwest maintaining its rain free base

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A maelstrom of agitated rotating lowerings appears

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We look on with amazement, surely tropical storms can't get this good!

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As the lowering to the left dissipates a new one develops to the right under the rain free base

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S#@t!!! The new lowering starts to rotate!!

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A chance lineup!! Personalised plates are cheap in the Territory!

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Waiting to board our plane the old storm dies as a gustfront moves across the airport

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Goodbye Darwin...thanks for the great storms!!

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...another Darwin sunset - this time from 15,000'

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