This first report is of my first concerted chase effort.
Rather than letting the storms come past me at my home in Ryde suburb of Sydney,
I, instead went driving.
The morning weather over Sydney city was reasonably low cloud, not really conducive to observing
an approaching thunderstorm. After observing the starting of a storm out Orange area, I decided to
head inland past Katoomba to see if I could get to clearer skys.
By the time I got to the Leura area, ~1400 EST, there was thick fog being lit up by lightning
flashes. This was followed with torrential rain and a hail shower ( pea size hail) I thought to myself...
GREAT !! all this way to have the lightning buried in thick cloud .... so much for my first storm chase!
Passing through Blackheath the cloud lifted a bit and I observed several large C-G's and things
started to look up. I stopped about 1 km short of the turnoff to Janolan Caves. This spot was
reasonably open without trees obscuring the views to the surrounding hills. The cloudbase was around
500m above me and I started to observe and photograph C-C's and C-G's in the distance, 5 - 10 km
away. This went on for ~ 30 minutes before starting to die off and I was thinking ok its all over as
the storm was now heading on towards the coast.
Out of nowhere, some 10 C-G's dropped very close to me, all within about 1 km, several VERY close
a few 100 metres. Scared the heck out of me ... haha ... was so unexpected ... having thought the
storm had moved past me. The main thought going through my mind was ..... Wonder how good a
Faraday Shield my car would be, should it get struck.
this was just one branch of this strike the other was around further to the left of this one out of
camera view. The next pic is the frame immediately prior to this one, and I am sure it has shown
me, for the first time, the faint leader going up from the ground ( which is down, just out of shot of
these 2 pix). I would be interested in getting comments on this.
Only a few times have I seen the "leader" in a lightning pic ( not mine) and always a strike close
to the photographer. So maybe I have finally struck it lucky
Further comments to this ... James Harris has suggested that it could be a camera artifact, similar
to what he has seen on some of his videos, but didnt show up on film camera pix of the same event
The rain and cloud returned so I started back for Sydney. Whilst travelling along the M4 I saw a
number of awesome C-G's over the Sydney area and wishing I had some one with me to do
photo's whilst I drove. Not to worry maybe next time.