Posted by: peterhact | November 30, 2011

Storm chasing – nah, it isn’t all that, surely?

I am a weather nut. I watch the storm tracker radar, I try to get to locations where I can watch storms, mostly from the safety of a building or the car, but last night, watching some massive cells approaching Canberra, I had to go somewhere that put me “in the action”.

So I did. I drove up mount Ainslie, positioned my car close nearby & found that my camera battery was flat. I grabbed the wrong one.if I drove home to get the charged one, the storm would have been gone. I decided to use the iPhone, clicking really fast in the dim hope that I would get a great shot.

There were others up there. I chatted to a bloke named tom, he was using a canon digital camera – seems that’s the camera brand of choice, and he had a couple of decent images already. He didn’t laugh at my misfortune, but expressed surprise at my decision to use the iPhone.

Then the show started. Over black mountain, we saw some small strikes. Over Gungahlin, it was a different story. Strike after strike, rain shadow building, and then the world went mad. We agreed that when the flash and bang had a delay of a “count of one”it was time to get into the cars.

The iPhone gave me some great shots, I even got a strike. The count was at 10. The count got to 5, really quickly. Then, as the strikes became faster (and closer) the nervous glances towards cars grew. Then, with no warning, the count went to zero. Bugger.

In the car. Now. Must get door open. Must get in. Mustn’t forget umbrella. Crash! Aaaagh! Now, the smart thing would have been to drive off right then. Nah. I stayed to edit the photos, deleting all the blanks, and, as the storm was just 100m away, then decided to go home.

The road down the mountain is always tricky. In a thunderstorm, with driving rain, high winds, surrounded by gum trees, well, I did not go very fast, the wipers were on medium, then really fast. Driving slowly allowed me to avoid the fallen branches, not that many, but the rain was amazing.

The drive home – I didn’t go over 40 in the 60 zone, 60 in the 80 zone, and when I got to the monaro highway, well, 100 was never a possibility. What with the strobe effect of lightning, the buffeting wind and the horizontal rain, I drove carefully. After all, why speed and end up in a tree, a gutter or a pole? How could I do this again?

I need a tripod. Oh, and a power inverter. And I will be ready for next time. This is an addiction I will be enjoying. Joining a group of people who are like minded, enjoying the power of nature in its rawest form…

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