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LATEST SKY EVENTS

Updated August 6th 2019

Glenshane Road Thunderstorm - August 5th

Finally after several days of thunderstorms and tough forecasts with great atmospheric handicaps the sky finally produced a storm for me after a long frustrating day of watching struggling clouds and being stuck in traffic jams. By late afternoon I had given up as everything looked too messy however two hours later rapid developments soon became apparent. To the south of Maghera I noticed rather robust towers going up and moving north with radar showing a line of red cells across Mid-Ulster which extended from the Sperrins to Lough Neagh. I drove outside Maghera and waited, suddenly I heard several rumbles of booming thunder to the south so I have chase and quickly came within visual range of an obvious thunderstorm which was crossing the Glenshane road between Castledawson roundabout and Maghera. I gave chase then pulled over at the entrance to a farmer's field and was pleasantly surprised by the view. This was the storm with big gust front which surged over the green landscape adjacent to the main road, this image is 10mm wide angle so it covers a massive area of sky. The cell was moving fast so I got ahead of it and chased it north almost to Garvagh then it overtook me with prolonged torrential rainfall and flooding. At last some structure and dramatic skies on a day when it seemed like it was game over, a good result. More storms this week so I will be chasing again, I will update later if I catch anything cool.

Update - August 3rd

Quick update, I have another NLC display captured which I haven't shown on here yet until I capture a few more events for a future site report. I was doing a photo shoot on Wednesday night then suddenly I was fogged out which ended the shoot earlier than I had expected. I drove home and suddenly it cleared inland so I stopped outside Swatragh and decided to shoot the local church there. I ended up shooting a two hour star trail which turned out very nice, this image actually made the trip for me which I hadn't even planned, I'm fairly certain this could be the first night sky image taken from this location. This was captured with the 10mm wide angle at 02.00 BST on a lovely mild quiet night, I even got treated to a few Perseid meteors too (the peak is on August 12th-13th).

During the same week I got invited to film the barely cut as part of the operations of Broighter Gold Rapeseed Oil in Limavady in association with AerialVisionNI. This turned into a great day, the business owners and family were lovely people who granted me full permission to film here so the usual drone regulations didn't apply as I could get as close I wanted for more dramatic footage. Gorgeous countryside here with acres of fields of barely and rapeseed, I ended up burning through three batteries to get the drone footage I needed, it was an absolute pleasure on such a gorgeous warm afternoon.

Full drone footage of the Broighter Gold barely cut with the Mavic 2 Pro, please watch at 1080p HD and in a new window for the best experience. The models are hinting at convective weather on the cards this weekend and into next week so I might be storm chasing then so expect more updates soon, and with luck, new image reports too.

Mussenden Temple Noctilucent Cloud Display - REPORT

NLC Report

On June 27th 2019 I decided to take a gamble and head to the north coast in the hope of capturing an NLC display over the famous foreground this place has to offer, after all, it would be the last clear night for a while. I left earlier and teamed up with Nigel McFarland, we documented a pleasant summer sunset from Binevenagh by drone, soon after we got shocked by a striking NLC display at the zenith in twilight. This faded however a new display rapidly formed which became one of the most photogenic of the season. We shot the NLCs over Mussenden Temple and Downhill Estate until dawn and I acquired my finest NLC time-lapse sequences to date which made for a great summer memory. One page report with 13 images and 2 video clips. - REPORT.

Shelf Cloud On Co. Tyrone Squall Line With Funnel Cloud & Strong Rotation - REPORT

Tyrone Squall Line Report

June 29th brought the convective event of the summer when unstable air overlapping 80 knots of deep layer shear triggered an organized evening thunderstorm over the west of NI. On a hunch and after detailed personal forecasting Paul Martin and I chased into Co. Fermanagh and intercepted a rapid moving squall line which traversed NE across much of the country. We battled traffic and torrential rain to stay ahead of the system and got rewarded with an embedded funnel cloud and strong long-lived rotation over the Omagh road, followed by thunder, and climaxing with a beautiful late evening shelf cloud over the countryside to the west of Lough Neagh which made for our most exciting chase in years. One page report with 26 images and 1 video clip. - REPORT.

Cookstown Type 5 Noctilucent Cloud Storm - NEW REPORT

NLC Show

This report begins with a local chase on June 13th to intercept a gust front near Toome, progresses to a lament about recent storm busts in the 2019 chase season, then climaxes with the most spectacular NLC display I have seen since 2019. I documented the entire show from a road side near Cookstown where I watched in awe as an extensive type 5 display dominated the northern sky, illuminating objects, sporting real time motion, and unearthly structure with bizarre shapes and motion. A truly unforgettable night in the middle of the most active NLC season for over a decade. One page report with 15 images and 3 video clips. - REPORT.

Beautiful Cell From Maghera - NEW REPORT

New Chase Report

After a long drought the 2019 Summer storm season finally relented with a day of 600 CAPE and a risk of pulse storms. The odds were not great due to a lack of shear, cooler temps and cloud cover concerns with rain bands potentially killing the day. After a mid afternoon bust chase in Tyrone I returned home to be greeted by better solar heating and taller late evening towers. Radar showed a line of storms approaching Lough Neagh so I raced out the road, I battled frustrating roads and finally intercepted the line of cells S of Ballyonan, I followed them N through Gulladuff with nice gust front structure then finally I got treated to a beautiful late evening show from the Maghera countryside with sunlit cell sporting mammatus which I time-lapse departing into the distance at sunset. Also includes a missed funnel on camera and beautiful coastal sunset. One page report with 20 images and 2 video clips. - REPORT.

Portstewart Fireworks Display By Drone - REPORT

Drone View of Porstewart Fireworks

I have always wanted to film a fireworks display by drone however I always put off the event for various reasons due to weather or drone regulations. However after hearing about the Portstewart NW200 fireworks display on May 17th 2019 I finally decided I would tick it off my bucket list. The location and take off point satisfied all CAA regulations and I would be flying over the ocean which would be extra atmospheric. At 22.30 the fireworks erupted into life and from the rocks on the sea shore I launched my Phantom 3 Advanced and commenced aerial filming. The flight was a complete success, I was thrilled and satisfied with the experience in equal measure. Read more about how I went about the filming and my course of action pre-flight on the report. One page report with 4 stills and 1 video clip. - REPORT.

N. Ireland Storm Chasing Image Reports - Archive

Astronomy is not the only subject I'm interested in, check out my N. Ireland Storm Chasing section and view the chase reports and images which detail not only storms but other phenomena such as a moonbows, noctilucent clouds, aurora displays and exciting nature related photo shoots.

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Martin McKenna

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