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Wonthaggi to Glen Alvie shelf cloud chase 

T.Middleton 13.3.2000

  It had been a very poor summer for storms in my area with no storms of note for almost 2 months.The forecast was for a max. of 32c with a chance of an isolated thunderstorm with a late cool change. I recorded a temperature of  34.2 on this particular day,and cumulus had been progressively drifting in from the north west and collapsing most of the afternoon as it passed through my area. Late in the afternoon/early evening I noticed a cloud band approaching from the west, I contemplated going to my favourite weather viewing spot about 16km's away but it had no distinct features,not even any cumulus 'heads' visible.It looked rather boring and I thought it was going to be yet another very disappointing weather change,so i gave it a miss.Several observations and about half an hour later revealed that it had developed rather dramatically (and/or any details had previously been indistinguishable because the sun was almost setting in the sky behind the cloud band). It was almost knocking on my front door by now. By this time it was too late to go to any of my favourite weather observation/photographic spots on the coast as it would have begun to pass by the time I got there due to the contours of the coastline here, despite only being a matter of 5-15 minutes away. By this time it was a beautiful shelf cloud basically stretching in a curving manner the width of the western horizon!scud and lowerings had begun to form underneath on the gustfront.

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Also there was some thunder rumblings and lightning,but nothing too dramatic.So i took a few photos from just down the road and then headed ENE into the hills near Glen Alvie to try and 'buy' some time and get a good look at it.

  Once at my next vantage point on a hilltop at Glen Alvie I could see the full extent of this system. The approaching front had continued it’s development as it had crossed the coast. Scud was now clearly visible along most of the gust front beneath the shelf cloud which in turn was below some visible anvil portions.

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It looked most impressive and was a welcome sight after the ‘storm drought’. As it continued it’s rapid passage towards me there was almost too much too take in at once as well as try to take photos.

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It wasn’t long before it was overhead again, I could see scud/cloud rapidly forming in front of the gust front and being sucked into the mass. A little further back from the front band there was some scud/lowerings (not sure what, as it was directly overhead)clearly been sucked back into the system surged forward.

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At this stage I was very excited, and then the wind change hit! Dust lifted off anything possible as a chilling WSW wind swept through, I estimate this to be at about 70km on the gusts. The asthetic beauty of the system was now passed me and the clarity of what was in the sky very diminished. I could see heavy precipatation on the south side of Wonthaggi and towards Cape Paterson.The thunder and lightning had now ceased and the rain associated with the front was now very near. To try and chase this system any further would be pointless due to the winding nature of the road network through the hills. With the visual show over and it almost dark and the heaviest precipatation going around my vantage point I decided to head back into Wonthaggi. On arrival the rain was only light but obviously had been heavier as there were many puddles on the streets, but no notible debris. It was all over in about 35-40 min. with  8mm of rain recorded in Wonthaggi..

Radar of the front

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radar courteous of BOM.


some Melbourne webcam images of the front.

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approaching  front,7:07pm

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approaching  front,7:27pm

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approaching  front,7:37pm

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shortly after the front crossed Port Phillip Bay,7:57pm

images courtesy of omni-net webcam.the best webcam in the world!




copyright T.Middleton2000.