Storm chasing assignments with international and national media companies who have visited Darwin on assignment to chase with me..


 

 

 


DECEMBER 2012

Storm chasing with Australian Geographic Magazine with their science writer, Peter Meredith.

We only had a day or two to chase so the pressure was on from the first day.  Peter and Darwin pro-photographer, David Hancock who does a lot of work for AGM arrived around 10am on the day.  I had already picked a target area for us and there had been some storm activity in the area the previous days.

We headed  straight out south about 90km or so.  There is a great viewing hill in the area so we parked there and waited.  Convection was sparse...blue skies with a bit of cloud, but within about 40mins a large cell had formed and sure enough it was producing lightning.  It was the only storm cell on radar! We photographed the storm for about half an hour and then noticed more convection forming on the outflow.  We drove a further 40kms south and located ourselves with a 360 view.  Over the next four hours it was a lightning display that even I was impressed with.  So many photos, so many close strikes and the science writer was gobsmacked!  He had never seen so much lightning in a confined area.

We did not need to chase another day.  He had all the information for a great story on one outing.  He doubted my ability to find storms given every time we stopped to check radar, it was blank - no storm activity anywhere.  But patience and knowledge paid off and we were all rewarded with a spectacular days storm chasing. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2012 KYODO TELEVISION JAPAN

In November/December 2012 Kyodo Television came over to Darwin to film and document my endeavors to  capture and film upward lightning.  There was only one event during their filming but alas, it was not whilst they were filming with me.  We chased virtually all over the NT hunting thunderstorms for the right lightning.  Our first storm chase ended up being a memorable one as the thunderstorm became severe warned and we were right in the thick of things.

Lightning was extremely close and the winds were estimated at around 40-50kts.  We had chased hundreds of kilometers and the structures, the lightning we saw were very pleasing, the only aspect which disappointed was the fact that no many nighttime storms were about.  Most of the thunderstorms were mid afternoon, which is typical for Darwin, but we were hoping to get nighttime lightning.  It did come, but in the early hours of the morning on some days when we had already finished the day's chasing.  I have posted some images for you all to view.

 

 

Myself with Professor Masara Ishii, - one of the world's leading experts on lightning electromagnetic fields.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

James Reynolds, renowned typhoon, volcano chaser and storm chaser came and dominated with TC Carlos February 2011.  Images and report on Carlos page.

 http://typhoonfury.com/

 

10 day filming with Japan's national broadcaster NHK and in association with Oceapro Australia.  Storm chasing and filming for 'Wonder, wonder' special on lightning.  Nov19 - Dec 7 2010

http://www.tvjapan.net/en/subcategory/news.html

 VIDEO PROMO FROM NHK HERE! 

NHK JAPAN WONDER WONDER LIGHTNING DOCO TRAILER FEATURING MYSELF 2010 

 

Lightning documentary airs in the USA with National Geographic which I am featured here in Darwin.  The doco airs on Thursday 5th August 2010...here's the promo of my addition to the doco!!!

NatGeo lightning documentary 2010

 

 

NEW! Austrian Broadcasting Company releases trailer for Nation Geographic lightning documentary that I was involved in with Manfred Christ  and Klaus from The Cosmos Factory - See the promo here!

http://tvthek.orf.at/programs/35429-Universum/episodes/1364046-Universum--Bl

 UK Storm chaser visits Darwin.

(photos soon)

 

 

 Julian arrived after a long 35 hour flight from England where the temperature was only -6!  He arrived to a cool 27 overnight temp and he was somewhat glad to be off the plane.  His only priority was to get some storm action, but being his arrival was around 2am things were not going to play ball so soon!  After some chatting and a cold beer at home we just went through the storm situation and basically planned whatever came our way. 

The following night however proved a bonus.  A set of storms had been lingering around my home area and although some of the storms produced lightning they were too far off into the distance to chase - lack of a decent sealed road network)   We were sitting outside chatting enjoying a drink when we saw a bright flash about 10km from us - it was a storm that had fired up without us even knowing about it!  The radar did not show much the previous 40 minutes ago, but we watched for just one more bolt and that would b the signal to chase.

We grabbed the cameras and gear and took off in the car, we did not go far at all as the storm was within eye-shot of us and I simply drove around the corner where there is a nice clean view and we scurried out of the car - I shouted "Set up and point there"!!!  Within a minute of us setting up we had this massive strike no more than 300 metres from us - Julian was jumping out of his skin and I was really pleased for him!  We got four big strikes from this storm - the perfect location and timing was spot on.  The strikes were that quick that the lightning detector at the airport did not even register them!

For the next week or so we chased almost every day, many miles inland hunting storms which were large but did not produce an abundance of lightning, although we did see strikes here and there. Julian did not really care too much as any storm would do him!  We saw everything from funnels to shelf clouds, gust fronts to huge anvils - the only thing we did not get was more nighttime lightning...something that was lacking with the storms during his stay

You can read all the gossip and see the photos on Tornadovideos.net at this link and go through the pages! http://www.tornadovideos.net/forum?func=view&catid=25&id=31814&limit=10&start=120

 

European media contingent interview session in association with TourismNT

 

The media interview session went very well and all were very excited and interested in what actually a storm chaser does in Darwin.  The interview session lasted about an hour with a multitude of questions, both on the technical and fun aspect of chasing.    The media contingent had done a fair bit of tourist destinations for their respectful publications and due to work i could not chase with them at night, but I did take out Annett from Germany on the Saturday prior the team leaving and we covered most of the rural area hunting down storms.  The storms were a little weak in structure and did not produce an abundance of lightning, but visually they were exactly what she wanted.  We target a storm at Fogg Dam Conservation park and saw several bolts.  Annett was quite excited and happy that we had gotten exactly what we chased - storms!.  There were some cells moving towards the east from Adelaide River to Annaboroo but I made the call not to chase them as they did not give any positive indications of remaining strong.  Probably a good thing, as we headed back towards Darwin to nab a large cell off the coast the radar indcated that all the convection had just gone to rubbish - so the call was complimented on by Annett not to chase there!

 



Stuart, the news photographer, Annie the journo and two of the 8 party visiting media contingent for a photo shoot for the article. We wanted some 'clouds' in the background...how about a huge thunderhead instead!



German media ladies






Quick dash rural for a shot



The white hunter ready for Upps!!!!

Mychase car



Hit the skids and a quick U-turn for a triple rainbow!

 

 

This week Feb 11 I will be interviewed by several European media personnel who are in Darwin on behalf of Tourism NT.  The groups attending the interview process are 


t-online

- spiegelonline.de (48 mio viewers daily)

- Sonntagszeitung (circ 202,000) big Swiss Sunday paper

 

- Kronenzeitung (circ 900,000) by far Austria's biggest daily paper

- Franz Lerchenmueller - freelance - publishing for all major newspapers

 

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Annett's media report can be viewed through this link. Translate the text using your browser!

 

http://www.spiegel.de/reise/fernweh/0,1518,680110,00.html


Northern Territory News feature on Julian's visit to Darwin here:

 


 

Storm chasing/filming during November 2009 with The Cosmos Factory production crew from Austria for National Geographic's new documentary on lightning.

Manfred Christ and Klaus from Austria arrived in Darwin on Nov 16 to shoot the final segment of their lightning documentary for National Geographic.  The question was will there be storms?  Thankfully there was, albeit mostly mid-afternoon storms, but they were severe warned for damaging winds (80kmh)We chased as a group on the first Saturday with a couple from Sydney, Philip Klauzner and his partner Janine and journalist from the Northern Territory News, Emily watkins who was doing a feature on storm chasing for the weekend issue of the paper.

 image soon

 

 

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Storms were brewing in the rural areas and we intercepted four large towers going up, multicell variety!  We stopped and took some photos, filmed some sections and once I had checked the radar i decided that we should go inland about 100km's to get two storms moving through.  The CAPE was much better inland, whilst the storms in the rural area were nice, the better ones were an hour away - so time to surge and dominate!

 

I was looking for the optimum spot for the film crew to set up.  The storm had a dark brooding base and gust front.  There were strikes clearly visible and close so we found a hill top that looked directly into the aproaching storm, perfect!   Manfred and Klaus set up their Phantom time lapse camera and began filming the strikes, we all stayed out next to the cars and cameras ready to nab some images...even Emily had a go at it whilst I took some wide angle shots of everyone.  Philip captured a great shot of a strike with the mountain and dark base all in one shot - beautiful!

 

image soon 

We were located in this area for about 40 mins and I decided that we should escape the oncoming rain and try for the other storm.  Same scenario, we found a great viewing area and the storm was almost identical in appearance.  The doco team got some great time lapse.

 

I was chasing alone with the film crew during the final days of their stay to get the story line done and get more filming of storms.  They had specifically told me that they were here for me and my chasing, but what we really needed was nighttime storms - something that just was not happening.  We filmed over 25 lightning strikes during the day with some great structures.  I was more pleased that my chasing, forecasting and nowcasting paid off for everyone and we did not miss a storm and did not get wet!  Some of the final shots we got on the time lapse were amazing, some strikes return stroked up to 12-14 times in one hit!!  Incredible and it has changed my outlook on how lightning works when viewed by the naked eye!  It was a wonderful experience chasing for them and with them.  They got everything they wanted film wise alas for the nighttime lightning, which we were so desperate for.

 

 

image soon


 


GEO Magazine November 2007

The photo is self-explanatory but the two weeks were an absolute joy to be involved in.  Not only having the professional photographic education from the Geo photographer, Nick Moir but also the excellent company that Geo Pacific's correspondent, Florence De'Camp was for the week talking and chasing with her.  Her easy to get along with attitude and willingness to be open to discussions about storms in Darwin was very welcoming.  The more technical the better and hopefully she left with a little more knowledge than when she arrived with!  Florence was extremely friendly and she has some fantastic stories from her past travels around the globe obtaining stories for the magazine.

 

Sunday Territorian news feature below re myself and Florence and the European connection with Geo Europe Magazine. 

* Special thank you to Kirsty Reid, Editor of the Sunday Territorian weekend newspaper here in Darwin for placing the feature.  Her advice and help in putting it all together with the reporters was fantastic and to Alison Bevege, reporter for this feature - great stuff!

  

     

BIG REPUTATION: The Territory''s own storm chaser Mike O''Neill and European Geo South Pacific correspondent Florence De''Camp check out a storm at Stokes Hill Wharf last week. Picture: CLIVE HYDE

BIG REPUTATION: The Territory's own storm chaser Mike O'Neill and European Geo South Pacific correspondent Florence De'Camp check out a storm at Stokes Hill Wharf last week. Picture: CLIVE HYDE

Mike has a nose for wild storms

ALISON BEVEGE

CHASING storms and dodging lightning has made a Territory man world famous.

Armed only with a digital camera, amateur storm photographer Michael O'Neill has run into some of the worst onslaughts the Top End climate can hurl in his quest for the perfect picture.

He has ducked lightning bolts not once but four times in the 18 months since he picked up his new hobby.

"You hear a low buzzing - a metallic static sound - and all the hairs on your arms stand up on end," he said.

"When that happens you either take cover, jump in your car or crouch up in a ball and hope it doesn't hit you."

Two weeks ago, Mr O'Neill was chasing a storm front from Humpty Doo to Darwin when he saw lightning strike a transformer on the Stuart Highway multiple times, leaving a powerline sagging dangerously across the road.

After alerting police, the storm chaser flashed his lights to warn oncoming traffic - until one car drove straight through, snapping the dead cable.

Despite the dangers, Mr O'Neill is not afraid.

"Storms are not about sitting on your balcony," he said.

Mr O'Neill has captured storm phenomena and five different forms of lightning in his images.

His  reputation for capturing top shots and finding the best weather has now spread as far as Europe.

The apprentice printer has been headhunted by French magazine Geo - the European equivalent of Australian Geographic - which has a readership of more than five million people across Europe.

Geo's South Pacific correspondent Florence De'Camp flew to Darwin this week to chase storms with Mr O'Neill  for a special issue on Australia, to be released in March.

She said Mr O'Neill, from the Palmerston suburb of Durack, had a special gift for finding storms.

"He can smell them," she said.