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Recent storm chases in Canterbury

With the weather looking to be very settled for the end of November there isn’t a lot to talk about weather wise that would be considered interesting, apart from sunny skies coming up. A few showers may affect Northland today and tomorrow however that is probably as exciting as it will get, although you never know with anticyclones, could be a few inland bubble ups in both islands from time to time bringing nice big cumulus clouds and late afternoon showers.

Staying with the convective topic I thought I’d go over a few recent storm chasing expeditions I have been on with friends in Canterbury.

The first this month was on the 11th November. A southerly change was due to move into Canterbury in the afternoon, with the way the change was pushing in to me it looked likely that storms would develop around Peel Forest in South Canterbury and then push up along the foothills into Oxford. This is exactly what happened. We started more nearer Mount Somers and a storm developed then just started unloading, plenty of hail up to 20mm in size. We followed the core of this storm for about 30 minutes which is quite a long time in the storm world.

As the storm moved into the Rakaia Gorge it became a little more tame and quietened down, then about the Waimakariri Gorge area it fired up again. It was not an overly photogenic storm to photograph but the hail was really cool and kept excitement levels high.

The second storm this month was just the other day, Saturday 17th. Almost a similar situation however the storms this time tracked a bit closer to the coast and moved offshore just as it passed over Christchurch. We followed this area of unstable activity all the way from Geraldine right up to Christchurch, didn’t encounter too much hail but there was plenty of lightning about.

The day beforehand I wrote an article regarding the storm potential for the 17th and I mentioned the possibility of a funnel cloud developing, and that came true as we witnessed a brief rope funnel come out of a lowering. Unfortunately didn’t have enough time to photograph it as we were driving along at the time but I was pretty pleased with that. Another friend John Gaul from the New Zealand Thunderstorm Society witnessed a brief rope funnel that day also from his property in West Melton so that also adds some credibility to the days events.

Storm chasing can be heaps of fun, but a bit hard on the pocket if your travelling alone. Get some friends together and get out there if storms look like brewing in your area!

Story image / Stephen Burrows – A brief rope funnel occured out of this lowering not long after this photograph

By weather analyst Aaron Wilkinson –


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