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Sunday, July 20, 2014

My First Ever Storm Chase

I met my storm-chasing buddy on the Friday night to discuss our plans.  It was to be my first ever storm chase.

We concluded to head towards Birmingham.

However when we met up in the morning, the high resolution model was suggesting the south-east and there were already some cracking little storms developing over northern France and heading towards the Worthing area, so we changed our minds and headed there.

Below is the current lightning strikes when we set off, high resolution rainfall prediction for 3pm, CAPE prediction for 3pm (huge!) and rainfall radar when we set off.


It was a very close decision, but given the photos from the Kent storm the night before, one we thought was justified.

We drove along the M4, then crawled along the M25, finally again gaining speed on the M23.
The clouds were not particularly promising in our location but it was breaking up and we hoped that surface heating would generate home-grown storms north of London, if what we were chasing did not survive the English Channel.





But after around 2 hours of driving, it became clear our storms had faded away, and if we carried on we'd be lucky to get a light rain shower.


We carried on driving for a bit until we some this suddenly towering cumulus cloud and got excited - hey we are getting home-grown storms after all.









We lost it whilst in traffic and it was headed into London which would have been a pain in the backside to chase through, so we decided to go around the M25 to the east and hopefully head towards Cambridge.


It faded anyway so we stopped, somewhat exasperated, still seeing that it was kicking off towards Bristol.  We thought about heading towards Birmingham to catch what would have been left of it but didn't have confidence that we would get there in time.

And then we saw more beauties over northern France develop.  So back to the south coast we headed - over the Dartford bridge and into a long queue of traffic.  Again.



But by time we got into Hastings, the storms were already starting to fade, although the cloud did look somewhat threatening and we had a rain shower on the way home.  The storm did produce over the far east of Kent but this was too far away from home so we headed back.


After a pint.


And looking at some lobsters.


It was absolutely no consolation to hear that there was a great storm from Oxford through to Northampton, which we would have caught had we decided to head to Birmingham - some reports of cloud rotation and perhaps a funnel cloud or two in the various storms, not to mention large hail, torrential rain, flash floods and of course copious lightning.

We missed it all.

If only we had gone west.