Self-research into distribution of lighting flashes and upward lightning events within the NT.  Reports and findings forwarded to the Darwin Severe Weather Section Bureau of Meteorology

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STORM CHASING REQUIRES MANY, MANY HUNDREDS OF MILES DRIVING AND THE MAINTENANCE OF ONE'S CAR IS PARAMOUNT. I SOMETIMES FORGET THIS AND I MUST RECOMMEND THAT IF YOU DO CHASE, THEN HAVE YOUR VEHICLE REGULARLY SERVICED AND CHECKED MECHANICALLY.  YOU DON'T WANT TO BE BROKEN DOWN HUNDREDS OF MILES FROM ANY TOWN OR CITY TO GET ASSISTANCE.

 I WOULD LIKE TO PROMOTE AND RECOMMEND A PARTICULAR MECHANICAL REPAIR BUSINESS IN DARWIN  (THAT KEEPS MY OWN CAR MECHANICALLY SOUND AND SAFE) TO ALL MY VIEWERS, AND NEW VIEWERS TO THE SITE.  IF YOU ARE A LOCAL OR EVEN PASSING THROUGH OR HOLIDAYING IN DARWIN AND YOU ARE IN NEED OF MECHANICAL REPAIRS OR A SERVICE, OR EVEN A REGISTRATION APPROVAL CHECK, PLEASE USE THIS SERVICE LISTED BELOW: 

 

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 UPDATED August 22 2014

Updates will be posted below information summary below!

Several media chases within the 2013/14 season even though I  took a break from chasing per se during this time.  In the season coming for 2014/15 I am back on-board with the investigations and chasing.  So it has been a nice break, but now time to get back into  field work and data collection of lightning.

 

    Lightning study and research on lightning

 Since late 2010 I decided I wanted to research the physical and optical attributes on lightning around Darwin.  Primarily the initiation of upward leader lightning arising from single cloud to ground flashes.  If locations in Darwin's rural area and inland promoted such flashes whether they be from tall structures such as communications towers, hills or if in fact land based upward leaders resulted from either positive or negative strokes from thunderstorms.

 Lightning physics is highly complex and to undertake such research is time consuming and a lot of theory is constantly being done by myself to further understand this phenomena and how it may impact both communication and power line systems.  Starting over during the 2010/11 storm season chasing I, with the aid of sponsorship from  HamiltonPhotoNT, was able to obtain some research material and equipment to try and film such events during lightning storms.

The project is not without considerable time and effort in locating such storms, especially given lightning is not always something that wants to be present where you want it.  Initially through last season a major monsoon event with a cyclone totally ruined most chase days with continually weak storms and rain.  Those days that were chased were fruitful in producing storms, but limited lightning from these storms frustrated me no end, but some optical aspects etc were able to be noted to assist in conjunction with applying the theory to it.

I'm optomistic for the season approaching that with such a good dry season the normality of our famed stormy weather will again return without an early/extended monsoon.  The research is to be conducted over several years with the aid of Tom Warner in the USA always willing to talk and offer articles pertaining to lightning and viewing his own lightning physics work, it is all coming into place.

Storm chasing is a given, but finding those lightning active storms that produce abundant flashes where I need them can be a difficult aspect to chasing.  It either produces lightning on the other side of the storm of right in front of you, but this is all part of the study because in reality it all fits in together.

Technical aspects of the research will come together during the field exercises and when further equipment becomes available to me along the way.  It's not just a case of watching it and filming it, that would be too easy - disecting the footage when it becomes available during filming is the first step in understand what is going on with lightning.  It's a new challenge and I am enjoying every minute of it.

 

I  will update this page when the vision and stills I am after when they present themselves and give some details on what I find along the journey.

Negative ground flash

 

 

 

 OCTOBER 2013 UPDATE

 

Investigations continue with several more incidents of lightning damage being found during the latter part of the season in 2013 (Feb-April).  There were many upward lightning events also witnessed during the months of February when lines of multicells converged on the northern coastal regions of Darwin.  Up to 12 separate events were seen with still images taken - and will be added to the page soon.

2013/14 season looks like starting earlier than expected. Will a neutral phase for our season re La Nina or el Nino things might be better than last year for decent storm conditions.

 

DECEMBER UPDATE 2012

Research continues in earnest and I have found many trees around Darwin that have been destroyed by lightning.  The largest Ka value that was detected destroyed a Northern Cypress Pine, that value was 127Ka -CG.  I have posted images below to give you some indication as to the power of lightning even on medium to small trees.  Upward lightning was located during the first week of December 2012, but was very brief and only still images were taken.  The storm was active but not in an area that is known to myself for producing upward lightning.  The image highlights both a downward stroke and upward leader stroke at the same time during exposure.

I gave a shortened lightning presentation to our Bureau of Meteorology here in Darwin for the film crew that was with me.  The presentation was very well received and the meteorologists were very interested in what I was showing and talking about.  I included both stills and video and high speed lightning footage.  It is their wish that I return after our storm season to give a full presentation to the office staff, something I am very honored to do.

 


 

NOVEMBER UPDATE 2012

 

The research is continuing well with no shortage of storms to chase these past few months since the season started.  I have had Kyodo Television from Japan filming with me during the first two weeks of November and we virtually chased every single day throughout the NT in search of upward lightning, but particular storm systems did not eventuate for this phenomena.  We had targeted and received quite a lot of lightning, both very close and frequent, but the upward lightning was not evident with any CG activity near us whilst filming.

I also was invited to our Bureau of Meteorology at the Casuarina head office to do a lightning presentation featuring all aspects of lightning, from initiation, types, safety and protection.  The presentation was shortened somewhat due to filming requirements for the documentary but a further presentation is planned after the cyclone season ends and the bureau are no longer under intense work load forecasting for the monsoon season.

Images of the Kyodo team and the storms we encountered will be posted very soon.

 

 

20 MARCH update

Not a lot of upward leaders seen but late February I successfully videoed and photographed my second upward leader event.  The set of multicells had come from inland SE of Darwin and hovered over my home area.  Lightning strikes were frequent and decided to move about 6km North from them for a more open view.  A lot of the strokes were hidden but an active period of CG's produced upward leaders from a communication tower near my actual home...I could have wanted to have been closer, but rain in the area forced me out and to keep dry.

Analysis was also done on a Northern Cypress Pine which had been struck by lightning near my home.  I spent about two days measuring, photographing and collecting data on the type of strike which hit the tree.  The images themselves depict major destruction to the 14m tree.  The Kamp range of the stroke which hit the tree was over 100Ka and a -CG.

 

A report was compiled and submitted to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology Darwin and Tom Warner lightning physicist in the USA.  It was received with encouraging comments.

 

 image soon

 

 

With only a few weeks left of the season I'm hoping to capture more...weather permitting.

 

Here are three still images of the upward leaders.

This first shot shows CG activity embedded in rain which initiated the following upward leaders.

 image soon

 
 

 

First of two upward leaders. (c) StormscapesDarwin.com

 

Second upward leader (c) StormscapesDarwin.com

 

Video of the upward leaders from 6km away from tower.

Positive upward leader lightning 

 

The research has been going very well since the implimentation of the lightning sensor attached to my home. An apartment complex in Darwin was stuck by a -CG with strong continuing current during Nov/Dec storms that produced a prolific amount of lightning.  Overall there were about 1800 strikes total, with 600 flashes in Darwin alone. There has been only one upward leader stroke observed during the storms I have chased, but this does not mean there has not been some somewhere.  They are elusive beasts and topography does have some bearing on their production where there are no storms initiating around tall communication towers and the like.  Large KAmp strokes have been recorded since December with over 14 over 200KAmp, two of which attained 280+KAmp status which is significant.

I have obtained daily stats of all lightning strokes within a 300-500km radius around Darwin and part of the research involves stroke multiplicity, grounding frequency and amount of BFB's ejected during particular storms observed.  HS video of a nighttime BFB shows great leader activity and continuing current.  I will add these once I have gone through all the videos and deleted ones of no informative value.  They take quite a long time to observe and process because of the frame rates, 1 second of footage can take up to an hour.

I will be conducting analysis on the damaged building in Darwin and will add some report notes and more images as they are taken.  Atop the complex there are two lightning protection devices and neither of them attracted the stroke, which was very odd!

During my field work I witness one particular flash that un-beknown to me, almost struck two other chasers SE of my actual location.  The stroke hit behind them and both suffered minor tingling and numbness in their arms.  They are extremely fortunate not to have been killed or seriously injured.

The offending flash:

 

 

Damage to building from lightning flash in Nov/Dec 2011 - investigation this week 16 Jan 2012

 

 

NEW !     * LIGHTNING SENSOR TO AID RESEARCH 

 

Some exciting developments re lightning research tools!  Darwin is without a sensor that acurately detects strikes. Sensors are located in QLD and WA and some parts of the NT but these generically detect flashes from sensors too distant for accuracy.  Kattron Lightning Detection Network Australia  VIEW KATTRON'S SITE HERE and I have had discussions and an agreement has been reached for them to send me a lightning sensor to install on top of my roof.  Coverage extends up to 300km and is extremely accurate.  Information made available through software will aid the research by allowing me to see instantly where, when, and what polarity the strike was.  As far as the research aspect is concerned this is vital to upward leader flashes and sprites to determine if, which flash initiated them. I am excited about this new agreement and being able to work with Ken's expertise and experience along with his business partners in collecting lightning data from Darwin - accurately!  If you're in any way interested in receiving real time lightning strike data Australia wide or lightning protection, then contact them at the link above.

Research has begun and with the long break between seasons the theory aspect has enhanced my own personal knowledge of lightning physics immenslty.  Special thanks to Tom Warner from ZT ResearchTom Warner's site for his ongoing advice and assistance with articles and outstanding knowledge of lightning.

There are two main areas of interest chase wise to capture regualar and differing lightning types in the rural area here in Darwin.  The thunderstorms showing typical bi-polar charge fields during their electrification process once rimification commences I have seen that from what is written in the articles of lightning initiation, all has been observed to be the same here.  Whilst some thunderstorms did not produce any visible CG activity, let alone IC flashing, the storms with a drier mid level section did produce a high flash rate within the kilometres viewed during their lifecycle.

Many-CG flashes were expected and photographed, but non as yet on HS video of note.  One flash in particular on 25Oct was a -CG which struck a floating buoy only 100m off shore. The flash produced 3 return strokes with the third stroke displaying continuing current for at least 1.5-2seconds in duration. It was an amazing display of current draw from the storm. The buoy lit up like a xmas tree during the final return stroke.  There was one particular -CG which by eye only flashed 2 or 3 times, but upon reviewing the HS video @ 300fps it in fact return stroked up to 12 times in the same channel.

Once November comes the storms will be a lot more lightning active and severe given our transition phase from dry season to wet season.  More updates as they come to fruition!  Below are two video links of the lightning captured of note.

Timelapse of lightning storm  

 

Return strokes @300fps