June 28th Chase report

June 28 was a long awaited chase day with fellow chaser/photographer Martin McKenna,we had talked about meeting up for a storm chase for quite a while. The day dawned overcast with heavy rain, but this was forecast to clear northwards with thunderstorms building from the south in the afternoon. By late morning i had all the gear packed into the car and after exchanging messages and checking satellite and radar updates i got on the road. I really had high hopes for catching some nice storm structure and i'm always hopeful of that funnel cloud or waterspout over Lough Neagh. Our rendezvous point was Ballyronan marina, so about an hours drive for me. The first action of the day occurred as i drove through Cookstown, Dark heavy clouds hung over the town and i drove into a wall of torrential rain and this was soon accompanied by thunder and lightning. I thought storm already and im only on the road half an hour-happy days! Driving conditions were very bad leaving Cookstown via the dual carriageway to Moneymore with a lot of surface water so traffic was slowed right down.

I arrived at Ballyronan a short while later and Martin was already there. The sound of thunder was growing louder and louder and soon it was rumbling almost overhead at the marina. We both stayed within the comfort of our cars and took some video footage, i would have liked to have caught a c-g bolt hitting the water but there was only in-cloud bolts and lightning obscured behind sheets of rain this time.

After the storm had faded into the distance we grabbed a few snacks and drinks and came up with a plan of action. We decided to head north back in the direction of Maghera for a better internet connection for vital radar updates and to see if any storms were popping up over the Sperrin mountains. The above image was taken parked on the Glenshane road. The storm looked promising with the anvil stretching out in front of it. We decided to wait and see what nature would throw at us. After waiting patiently the storm was a disappointment with no real structure to speak of and it was heading in the direction of the lough. After consulting the map we decided to head back east in search of something more exciting.

We drove through Maghera and out into the country when we glimpsed a beauty of an anvil through the trees. Back on the Glenshane road we pulled over for some images.

The sheared anvil was towering into the sky to our south-west and it looked good surrounded by clear blue sky. We briefly considered chasing it but after watching it for a while it looked to be past its best with the anvil not as solid as before. A quick check of the radar showed it was actually over my home town Omagh, over 40 miles away and was indeed producing thunder and lightning. So storms were firing in the west and we hoped for the same as we continued back east.

This was one of the best convective scenes of the day just outside Toome looking east. Explosive convection is surging skywards with crisp white towers indicating strong updrafts.

We pulled in again further up the road to shoot the distant convection over a sunlit field. Heres another big anvil out to the east and its a pity we weren't a bit closer to these cells on the day because they looked excellent from this range.

Martin in action shooting the big anvil from the previous image

Now at Ballyronan marina and our target storms had just pushed too far east but still looked good over the vast waters of lough Neagh. These were my last few shots of the day as we chilled out at the coastline watching the line of convection clear into the distance. It was a great way to end a really enjoyable day. The lough Neagh area is great for photography and watching storms and i will return here many times. We packed up and headed for home, although Martin's day had a surprise twist and you can read all about it in his chase report.