www.Nightskyhunter.com www.Nightskyhunter.com

Southern Storm Chasing & Omagh Road Sun Pillar Sunset - April 2014

The second half of April 2014 moved into high gear as nature was beginning to stir and it seemed that sunsets were on the menu which would make the month stand out in my mind above anything else. On April 20th there was an epic sunset happening, I was on the road heading home from the Cookstown area located on the Glenshane Road when I saw the blood red perfect disk of the sun slowly setting over the Sperrin mountains and quite frankly it looked like something from Africa, it was that astonishing, this was the kind of sunset which I absolutely love however I had to enjoy it visually and let it go because my 100-400mm telephoto lens was back at home and not in the back seat of the car where it normally would have been so with great frustration I had to mark this one as a failure on my part for making such a foolish error, after all I am supposed to be a photographer and not only that but weather photography is a field in which I specialize in however due to a rookie mistake I came home empty handed because in my mind if it isn't captured on camera then it didn't happen.

I am very optimistic however and learned a valuable lesson from my mistake which underscored the importance of preparation and discipline. The event also showed me what I have already known for years, and that is that nature will present you with something when you least expect it and I guarantee you it will happen on the one day you are not ready for it. I carry my 400mm lens with me in the car everywhere I go and I mean everywhere, from January until the present it has been there like a faithful companion however on that one day when circumstances changed it was forgotten and that was the very day in which I needed it's magnification abilities, so there's the lesson - expect the unexpected and always be prepared.

Garvagh Sunset

April 21st was another stunning day with warm temps and widespread strong sunshine, it was high pressure and the sky was clear and blue with a few formations of altocumulus castellanus on view indicating the presence of mid level unstable air which was slowly getting introduced into parts of N. Ireland and which would lead to a number of convective opportunities in the near future. I noticed the abundance of haze along the horizon - similar conditions to the previous day and to every great sunset I have seen - so I knew the chances of getting another nice sunset later in the evening were very good. Some people make the mistake of thinking they need to get a clear blue sky in order to witness a nice sunset however this is simply not the case because the sun will be too bright and simply 'burn out' or overexpose on camera with horrible results.

The best sunsets - both visually and on camera - happen within two set ups, the first is when the sun sinks into a layer of haze/dust or the correct kind of cirrus cloud, when this happens the atmosphere filters out much of the intense light which will enable you to observe the solar disk with great comfort and as this disk lowers it will take on stunning colours from yellow, orange, then to deep red, if you have a good horizon you cannot miss a sunset like this and they are very often the most speculator of all and my personal favourites. The other set up is when there is a clear gap above the sun before it vanishes over the horizon and above this is a mid level layer of cloud which in the correct conditions can be painted into surreal colours and textures, these kind of scenes may or may not be accompanied by atmospheric optical phenomena if there is sufficient ice crystals in the atmosphere. Amazingly as it happened April presented me with both these types of sunset which were so beautiful that I am still buzzing as write this over two weeks later.

On the 20th Roisin and I where on a coastal drive doing a video shoot for a friend so we spent most of the day on the road, in fact, over 8 hours driving and by the end of the day we were both getting tired so we left the Co. Antrim coast and began the inland drive home. As we advanced S it became apparent that another remarkable sunset was going to happen and within sec's it seemed to be reaching its most spectacular phase and this time I had the 100-400mm lens with me, however I was in the middle of Garvagh in traffic and I lost sight of the sun behind buildings and trees and I feared that by the time we got out of town our chance would be gone. The traffic lights turned green and we advanced as quickly as we could and as we exited the S side of town the ground rose to a higher elevation offering me a good vantage point, I glimpsed the sun about to set, I estimated that within 2 min's the disk would drop from view and it would be gone. I simply couldn't let this one go, there was no way that was going to happen and I had to make a quick decision, if I drove any further we would be in trees again and by the time another clearance presented itself the sun would have set so I just decided to take the next clear view option we could find and we got it in the form of a lay by on high ground beside a car dealership and I immediately rushed out from the car, attached the 400mm lens with trembling hands, selected the correct manual settings, and began shooting a series of images. Above is one of the first captures and in an instant I knew we had made the correct decision, we had it in the bag and took non stop images to take advantage of the vital sec's we had left, in my peripheral vision I could see Roisin out shooting the scene with her Samsung Galaxy phone camera and she was just as engrossed and excited as I was.

Garvagh Sunset

With the naked eye we could see this eye-catching vivid yellow-orange disk with moon illusion effect (making the sun appear larger low on the horizon compared to when it is observed higher in the sky) setting over Garvagh forest, I could only steal quick glimpses of it as I was still shooting and adjusting my shutter to accommodate the changing light. This is a deep crop from another 400mm frame, you can see a larger sunspot on view which I also observed in the viewfinder and below can be seen the numerous tree tops of the forest, then in what seemed like sec's it slipped below the trees and was gone leaving a residual glow on the clouds above, what a great natural rush and sense of accomplishment, it was worth the 8 hours on the road just to capture this scene which really made the day. This sunset was seen by many across N. Ireland and some described it as the most astonishing sunset they had ever seen in their lives. I was informed by a solar scientist from Armagh Observatory that she and a world renowned asteroid and meteor shower expert had also watched the very same sunset and that they had both witnessed the rare green flash before it vanished below the horizon. A few days later the weather was changing once again from high pressure to low pressure and with it would come a chance of convection and my first long distance storm chases of the 2014 season.

Chase Day 1 - Co. Fermanagh - April 23rd

First long distance storm chase of the season from Maghera to Co. Fermanagh with a chance of another couple of chase days likely after it so I was very excited indeed and furthermore Roisin was off for the Easter week so we decided to use this opportunity to not only hunt storms but also just to experience a good road trip and take in the wonderful scenery. I decided that I would also document some of these adventures in the form of a video blog which I would later upload to youtube to show viewers the kind of preparation involved and what it was like on the road taking in the various changes in the weather as well as our own moods. I have HD video built into my Canon 600D which I can use myself while in action and in conjunction with this I also had my Samsung HD video camera with mini tripod attached so I could set it on the dash and film out the window then Roisin could also use it to take hand held video of any scenes I needed while I drove so it seemed like a good idea.

The set up was 400-500 CAPE, LIs -1 with decent moisture and absolutely excellent solar heating however there was no wind shear (speed shear) at all so any storms which did form would be unorganised and of the pop corn variety better known as pulse storms however that didn't bother me as I simply wanted to get out there and enjoy convective skies once again and dramatic cloudscapes was what I was after and I didn't need organisation to get those, in short I was there for anything nature threw at us and I was prepared to go below the border if needed and with Roisin beside me I knew we would have a fun day out regardless of what happened. I did my morning video blog then obsessively checked radar, sferics, and sat images on my lap top at home. Roisin was located in the countryside outside Toome and I would be picking her up at 13.00 then we would take it from there. The thing is that there was a little local CAPE during the early afternoon so I didn't want to leave too early incase I missed something local then after a suitable waiting period the plan was to head S towards Fermanagh and see what happened.

Paul Knightly from TORRO informed me that the high res models were showing a N-S convergence zone across N.I and if I could get on that then there would be fun times ahead, the models indicated a line from Omagh across the Sperrins then ending towards Derry and soon the sat images confirmed that a Cz was indeed forming so I got out on the road and watched from the Glenshane Road. The sky was clear blue with blazing sun however there was one huge line of convection starting near the SW horizon then extending across Glenshane to the N, at one end with fair weather cumulus however from the mid section and beyond where solid cumulus and towering cumulus rapidly developing. Convergence zones are regions were opposing winds meet and when they do so they tend to force air upwards which acts as a lifting mechanism for convection and it is here that thunderstorms and funnel clouds are more likely to happen so I really thought I was in business. I drove rapidly to the Toome countryside and picked up Roisin, she too had noted the convection and knew something was brewing so we got in the car and headed back N to Maghera to get supplies of water, fill flasks, then got fresh sandwiches made up then hit the road once again. The Cz had died rapidly however this didn't concern me as the best CAPE would move into S and SW parts of NI and Ireland by late afternoon so we headed straight S through Cookstown then under the blazing sun while enjoying the views along the Omagh Road.

We parked near a filling station and had tea and lunch then took in the fabulous atmosphere. It was warm, bright, and humid like a Summer's day and the feeling of the sun on my skin was wonderful. Busy fields of cumulus and small towers were doing their thing under a blue sky and small compact dark bases began to form which hardly moved at all and I suspected that with this kind of slack flow funnel clouds were possible and I would be surprised if there wasn't a report before the day was out. The drive from Omagh onwards was beautiful with outstanding good weather and cheerful skies however by early afternoon we had covered a lot of miles and where already entering a better zone of instability and I was getting a little nervous because so far all we had seen was small white convection and blue skies, there wasn't even a shower the entire time and I began to wonder why, there couldn't be a cap as there was sufficient cold air aloft so maybe things were just getting off to a slow start. We pulled off the road in Lack and Roisin got online and I was delighted to see that cells had formed below the border and would be moving N in the SEly flow, yes!, that was great, it meant the plan was simple, get as far S as possible, find a good vantage point and watch the cells come in. We got some much needed water then were back on the road heading S with renewed energy and focus.

Lusty Beg Hail Cell

We had a break in Kesh to get fresh air and stretch our legs, the temps were really fantastic and I could see nothing which could stop storm development this day. We watched the Lambs jumping merrily in the fields close to the river and soaked up the rays then hit the road once again. Once outside Kesh it became apparent that things were changing, the blue skies and cute white clouds gradually gave wave to more threatening skies and the further S we advanced the more meaner and beefy the clouds became until their came a point when the whole S-facing sky had that dark blue thundery look to it which looked amazing contrasting against the sunlit green fields around us. We drove through the Fermanagh lake lands and when located near Lusty Beg Island we intercepted our first and best cell of the day so we pulled onto a grass verge and got out to shoot the scene, Roisin was filming with the video camera while I was taking stills with the 10mm ultra wide angle lens. This was the northern most cell of the cluster which had formed below the border which was now moving in over the island and lake, it looked quite menacing visually with an elevated base and was moving straight towards us. A small but concentrated precip core was falling from the base with mottled shafts indicating the presence of hail stones within the core, the precip was dark however filtered beams of sunlight would break through from overhead turning the precip over the water into glowing ghostly beams which was a nice feature. Around this time the core was rapidly intensifying and had turned red on radar however we never heard any thunder from it but that didn't stop us from documenting the cell and watching the base carefully for surprise funnels.

Lusty Beg Cell

Light precip was falling now so Roisin went back to the shelter of the car while I got some last structure shots before getting back inside myself. I had a lend of my Dad's Kia Sportage for chasing which made life so much easier, although I love my Punto and have experienced many amazing sky events from that car it just doesn't beat the comfort of the Kia, especially when doing long hours on the road for in this raised car with this great suspension you almost feel like you are floating on the road and you barely feel the journey compared to the other car so it was absolute heaven chasing in it - thanks Dad!. We headed E along that road and punched through the core and we were both rather shocked by how heavy it was. Not long before this it was blue skies and sunshine with bone dry roads then in what seemed like a blink of an eye we were in another world with heavy rain and hard pea-sized hail stones making a din as they bounced off the windshield and bodywork, even the roads were soaked with deep puddles which was shocking however after 5 min's of driving we made it out from the core and watched as the cell moved N then we headed to Belleek for food and a radar check.

We highly recommend the Lemon Tree Coffee House in Belleek just around the corner from Belleek Pottery and opposite the River Erne. This cafe serves lovely food, coffee, tray bakes and cakes however even better is the free wifi available which has made it a new favourite place of mine when chasing in Fermanagh. Roisin and I had a latte each and shared a cake then I got online and I was delighted to see what our cell had intensified when we where under it making that a perfect intercept and technical success. The radar showed a bunch of showers below the border moving up which were now non electrified however what shocked me was the cell to the E of the country which was quite obviously the storm of the day, it was an organised line of cells moving N from below the border spitting out many c-g bolts, the storm was crossing N into Armagh and was making a bee line for SW Lough Neagh which was frustrating news. Storms were least likely to form in E areas yet there it was showing off in the opposite end of the country so we finished our coffee and headed back a little ways and stopped inside the entrance to Lusty Beg island to think of a plan. There was no way on Earth we could catch that storm heading for Lough Neagh from Fermanagh, it would be gone or decayed before we got a quarter of the way there so that was out of the question, yet through the hazy sky I could see a line of cream-coloured updraughts to our E which must have been that storm. The other option was to wait on that showery complex to arrive from the S and soon it appeared over the mountains and was nothing more than a mess with light rain so it seemed we got on the only good cell of the day in this area which was nice and there was no point waiting for anything else as the CAPE was waning so we ended the chase and just took in the views across the countryside.

In the distance far below us near the lake was a Horse randomly standing in the middle of the road, it looked so bizarre so I half jokingly shouted towards it and I made a hand signal in our direction saying ''come here'', I was shocked when the Horse suddenly began trotting up the road heading straight for us, it was almost like it understood what I was saying, once it got near us it became shy then just began to eat grass, I have no idea why it ran towards us from that distance, perhaps he/she thought we were the owners. By 19.00 we were back on the road heading N towards home and still had a long enough journey ahead of us.

Omagh Road Stormy Sunset

This was taken at one of my favourite locations - the main Omagh road facing N towards Cookstown. Roisin and I where driving along this long straight road under grey skies and rain when suddenly the sun came out and lit the landscape into wonderful warm colours which looked very dramatic so we pulled over and got images. I took this 10mm shot from the middle of the road with the bright setting sun colours making for a very contrasty scene against the dark storm clouds in the sky aloft, you can really sense the distance of this road as it seems to travel forever towards the horizon and for a moment it didn't seem like N. Ireland, instead it could have been an outback road in the USA or Australia, in fact, someone likened the image to a scene from Mad Max which I thought was rather fitting. I'm glad we got images during this short window of perfect light because 5 min's later the clouds closed in and it was dark and raining. This wouldn't be the last time we would witness a nice sunset scene and it wouldn't be the last time doing so from this road. Roisin and I ended the day with a nice meal in Cookstown then headed home, it had been a wonderful road trip with 8 & 1/2 hours spent driving and there would be another chance of storms in a few days time and I could already sense we would be back on this road once more.

Chase Day 2 - Fermanagh & Sligo - April 24th

This was a very desperate attempt to find a storm as the chances of any kind of proper convection firing was remote. There was a pool of unstable air over W Ireland so we targeted Fermanagh then Sligo area to get in the best place, I knew the odds were remote of anything happening due to a strong capping inversion, however there was convergence in the area so if an updraught could form it could produce a funnel, we had the means to do it so we went on yet another road trip and although we did encounter OK convection for a time in response to good heating it could not break through the cap so this turned into a clear sky bust.

Cookstown Cherry Blossoms

Beautiful scenes while on the road though, you don't mind busting on storms so much when you have stunning weather like this to fall back on. The Cherry Blossoms outside Cookstown looked breathtaking with late morning cumulus clouds building in a rich blue sky. We still had a great time though under sunny blue skies and got to visit Mullaghmore in Co. Sligo which brought back awesome memories from last year when Paul Martin and I witnessed the most epic off-shore ocean lightning display of our lives from night time supercell thunderstorms 80 miles away which was a night we shall never forget. Seeing the area in daylight was a pleasant experience with beautiful coastal views with terrific transparency, the mountains of Donegal in the distance looked extremely crisp and the air was splendid and good for the soul.

Fermanagh Stone Circles

Another great find while on the back roads of Fermanagh in unknown territory, this is Montiaghroe stone circle/standing stones which we happened to discover by pure chance. Roisin and I love checking out ancient locations, megalithic sites and buildings of historical significance, this was a new one for us, nothing like the vast stone circles at Beaghmore however a nice gem to find all the same hidden away in the countryside, it really did feel like ancient Ireland out here, the roads, trees, fields and ambience all felt like a time long forgotten that was still very much alive.

Omagh Road Capped Convection

This greeted us on the way home once again on the Omagh Road heading N so we pulled into a narrow road to get images. This is a beautiful and quite dramatic example of capped convection, a cap or capping inversion is a mid level layer of warm air which stops convection from growing tall and turning into storms, you can visualize that process very well from this image, the towering cumulus grows vertically then hits the cap which acts like an invisible ceiling and since it cannot develop in height any further the clouds will spread out under that ceiling until the updraught decays and thats exactly what can be seen here, the spreading is very well defined here almost taking on the shape of a small anvil, we watched the entire process from birth to death which was fun to watch, this single cloud tried the hardest out of all the clouds we saw this day so I gave it my due respect. We ended the day with another meal out after doing 10 & 1/2 hours of more of less constant driving.

Chase Day 3 - Fermanagh & Leitrim - April 27th

Third day of storm chasing within week, this time to make things more workable we stayed over at my Dad's home in Cookstown on Saturday night so that by Sunday morning we would be ready to go straight to Omagh. Decent enough set-up for the time of year with 500+ CAPE, LIs between -1 and -2 with good moist profiles and a trough moving in from the SW, speed shear was enough for organisation too and solar heating looked excellent again however the downside was the strange NEly flow which meant the wind environment would be pushing storms to the SW away from us into the S. The best CAPE was concentrated in the midlands and W Ireland with Fermanagh and border regions also showing instability although it was obvious that below the border would be best. On Saturday night I chilled out while studying the forecast then began another video blog, I was in contact with Omagh storm chaser Paul Martin and we agreed to meet up somewhere during Sunday and chase together, I was really looking forward to this. Roisin and I were up very early on Sunday morning and got everything prepared, Roisin made us a nice breakfast and it was so warm even at 09.00 that we had the back door open with glorious sunshine already greeting us, I like to see that for it meant good solar heating. Dad was doing a BBQ that afternoon however we had to turn it down as we needed to get on the road and into position further S. The sky was encouraging with surprisingly good convection growing over Cookstown with sturdy towers in a hazy blue sky bubbling with intent. We got S and by late afternoon we where in Fermanagh ahead of time and for the third time we where back in the Lemon Tree Coffee House having a latte and sandwich while I got to study the charts via lap top. A strong storm had fired SE of the border however it was unchasable as it was surging away from us in the NEly flow (which I was afraid of) so we waited longer for fresh developments.

We relocated to the beautiful picnic tables near Belleek Pottery adjacent to the river then suddenly Paul arrived and with him came convection. It was such a warm day - almost hot! - and without question considerably warmer than was forecast and that afternoon heat seemed to be affecting the clouds. An elevated cell suddenly shot up with multiple updraughts which seemed to be on the verge of turning into a storm, we were just waiting on the first rumble then we would chase after it, the scene was cool with these dark towers boiling with beautiful Cherry Blossom trees sharing the same visual field. Radar showed that the updraught near Belleek was the tallest tower/cell in N. Ireland that day so at least we where there even though it didn't produce. Many storms had formed well to the south of us so we packed into two cars and crossed the border heading in that direction with Paul leading the way in search of decent cloudscapes and a nice vantage point to shoot them from, Paul also had his two dogs 'Aurora' and 'Shandy' with him so this was turning into quite an adventure. We stopped at a service station at the border and Roisin got us lollies to cool us down, one of them was called 'Twister' which was amusing and motivational in equal measure, nice selection Roisin!. Showers were breaking out and dark unorganised clouds were moving into our area so we surged S once again through back roads into the district of Lietrim.

Leitrim Lowering

We ended up on a narrow mountain road somewhere in the Garrison area then when we reached a good vantage point this scene came into view so we stopped where we could with barely any room for two cars on the road, Paul ended up reversing into a field and I got as close to the edge of the road as I could, I left the video running on the dash so you can watch this scene on the youtube clip at the bottom of this page. This lowering was very well defined in perfect clarity against a blue sky and attached to a base running under a line of towers however we couldn't see any rotation evident in the clouds so this wasn't a funnel however it looked dramatic all the same and warranted a few images for the memory.

Soon after this image was taken it was obvious this day was a bust storm-wise for us, all the action was just too far S and we didn't have the fuel or time to get on those cells however the weather was clearing up and fast turning into a stunning evening so we drove to the top of the highest mountain in the local area, walked the dogs, then sat on the grass overlooking Lough Melvin. The view was truly epic with deep blue sky, white cumulus and glorious warm sunshine reflecting on the lake below which was almost hypnotic, even the fishermen and their boats looked tiny from this great height. We all just sat their taking in the view enjoying the warm rays and in the distance we would make out an anvil from one of those southern storms, it must have been a serious distance away. The sun was lowering so we began the drive back down the mountain, we had many miles to go so we turned on a CD and listened to music as the day waned.

Omagh Road Sun Pillar & Sunset

By late evening we where back on the main Omagh Road heading for Cookstown and as the min's passed I sensed that an epic sunset was about to happen. I got regular glimpses in the wing mirrors of the sun getting lower and lower and the sky was crystal clear above where it would set, however what did get my attention was the broken layer of altocumulus above which were in the process of spreading over the W sky and I suspected that once the sun dipped lower it would light up that irregular cloud blanket from below which usually meant a stunning sunset cloudscape was extremely likely. A few miles later I looked in the mirror again and saw a brilliant sun pillar shooting upward from the horizon above the sun and surrounding it was an orange layer of cloud which was turning red and that light was covering more and more sky, it was about to happen, slight panic set in, we needed to get off the road again to get images asap however I couldn't find anywhere to pull over and there where a lot of cars on the road behind us, I wanted to stop at the Seven Sisters and shoot the sunset over a lake however it dawned on me that we had long since passed that cluster of lakes so we kept driving N until finally I found somewhere to pull in a few miles outside Cookstown, I recognised the area immediately, it was the same place I had shot a severe thunderstorm from during July last year which yet again brought back great memories. Roisin and I were out of the car in sec's and began shooting the scene, the sun pillar was gorgeous and extending some 35 degrees in height.

Omagh Road Sun Pillar & Sunset

I thought it would be cool to get a few images of the clouds and colours reflecting on the windows. The pillar looked like a vivid yellow-orange heavenly beam spearing through the altocumulus aloft, the clouds were now a combination of yellow and orange with red tones forming, this spectacle was literally changing by the second.

Omagh Road Sun Pillar & Sunset

I kept shooting images while switching to take short video clips with the 600D and Roisin was snapping away with her smart phone too, both of us lost in our own worlds as we took in this stunning vista compliments of Mother Nature.

Omagh Road Sun Pillar & Sunset

One of my personal favourite images showing the Kia and Cookstown-Omagh Road facing S towards the pillar and sunset skyscape. What a show!, if you are vigilant enough you will observe occasional sun pillars however seeing a truly remarkable pillar is much more rare, the last truly impressive pillar I saw was back in 2005 in Maghera when an unforgettable crimson pillar appeared at sunset at the end of a lovely April evening however I had never seen any others of that caliber until now and what made it better was that this was Roisin's first ever sighting of a sun pillar too which made it all the more memorable. A bright sun pillar is rare however a bright pillar sharing the sky with a vast sunset cloudscape is even more rare as they tend to form in isolation against a clear sky so for this reason I consider this specimen to be very unique.

Omagh Road Sun Pllar & Sunset

The drivers in passing cars were honking their horns at us as if in acknowledgement, it wasn't an angry blast but more of a ''nice one, that's a beautiful sunset, we see it too and good job getting images of it'', that's the general vibe I got from the sound. Roisin got a text message a few min's later and it turned out to be one of her friends who had just passed us in one of those cars who had spotted us at the road side, that was a weird coincidence.

Omagh Road Sun Pillar & Sunset

The altocumulus was red and actually extended from above the horizon and across the zenith while the pillar faded and turned red as the lowering sun sank further introducing more shadows as dusk arrived. The entire sunset was visible in one form or another for a good 20-30 min's which was also quite remarkable. What a fantastic end to the day, this scene alone made up for the 10 hours and 20 min's of driving which went on before it not to mention the previous two chases as well. Important lessons are learned from days like this, for example it is not always the storms that can make the day but very often it is something else unexpected that you never anticipated which can make the day a success. This also underscores the importance of being out under the sky because I know if I had hesitated to go out because it looked bad on radar for the N then I would be sitting behind the computer feeling frustrated and it would be very unlikely that I would have seen this sunset at all, even if I had I may not have had time to get out the road to a good location to shoot it so in short - you can't beat being out under the sky!. Roisin and I were back home on Easter Sunday for 21.00 and we were buzzing for a long time after due that sunset experience, I am not a drinker however this time I did celebrate with a beer then called it a night. I learned later that a very large and impressive funnel cloud/possible tornado was captured in Cork which just goes to show that you never know what can happen even on days of little shear or convergence which is why low risk set-ups should always be taken advantage of just as much as the big days.

Chase Day 4 - Sligo & Beyond - April 30th

This was officially my longest storm chase to date and also one of my biggest busts. 600 CAPE with some shear and an occluded front moving N, the main concern was the cloud cover which could suppress solar heating however there would be some lift ahead of the front which could counter balance things, the best instability was SW Ireland so I targeted the Sligo, Leitrim and Cavan area. To cut a long story short I left by late morning and took my Mother with me for the day, however cloud cover really messed things up and I never seen a single convective cloud or tower all day long just grey mid level clouds, however at times I did observe distant black bases which looked promising, a storm fired to the far SE of Sligo (thanks for the text Paul!) however I couldn't get a visual on it due to the lay out of the countryside, I had no internet or wifi spots and the mountains and trees obscured the sky in many areas so I discovered that this was not ideal storm chasing country as one requires open roads and unobstructed views of the sky. Having said that the views were amazing and something the tourist board would be proud of with incredible mountains and deep valleys with stunning lakes and we even discovered a new castle to add to our list, the road trip alone was very exciting and it was great to learn new locations and discover which road systems were viable and those which were not.

We drove through Sligo twice, Manorhamilton, Fermanagh, Leitrim and ended the day at Rosses Point over looking the ocean and it was from there where we watched the approach of a bowing shower complex which looked great on radar and which had been earlier producing c-gs however one it arrived it had no structure at all and was just a mess of cold moderate rain, I got online via a local hotel to be informed that that line of cells was the event of the day and that nothing else was happening so we called it a day then began the very long drive home which amounted to another 10 hours and 20 min's on the road making for over 40 hours of chasing within a week. However no chase is in vain as something new is always learned, either about yourself, the countryside or about storm forecasting and after such sustained effort I now feel that nature owes me one so I am now waiting for something very special to happen.

Video blog from April 23rd

Video clip of April 27th sun pillar and sunset from the Omagh Road, keep in mind that the colours were much more vibrant visually than how they appear on video.

Full April 27th video blog documenting the entire day on the road and ending with the beautiful sunset and pillar which was the photogenic reward of all the four chases. Thanks very much for reading.


Martin McKenna

Sky Events Now

Observing Sessions

Storm Chasing