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N. Ireland Storm Chasing Reports - 2020

 

It's my intention that 2020 will be my most epic year for photography of storms, weather and nightscapes, let's see what nature does...

My first photo shoot of 2020, on three different nights I was joined by mates to shoot the night sky at Sperrin View Glamping located near Beaghmore Stone circles within the Sperrins. With only two weeks until this new venture officially opened to the public we were given permission to document the site during several frosty nights in January. We shot starscapes, star trails and time lapse over the four glamping pods and large communal hub while allowed access to the facility to take shelter when needed. As a result we got a behind the scenes experience at this location under the stars complimented by Orion the Hunter with Betelgeuse undergoing a record breaking dimming event. A wonderful experience and a great shoot to get the new year underway. One page report with 29 images and 1 video clip. - REPORT. Sperrin View Glamping Pods Nightscapes - January 2020
   
On January 19th 2020 I was chilling out after Sunday dinner when I casually glanced out the window and was astonished by a remarkable sunset skyscape taking place. I drove out the road into the countryside and launched my drone to get a better perspective and got treated to the best sunset sky show I have ever experienced in my life. The horizon was burning with an intense yellow afterglow while sections of highly structured mid level cloud were painted an intense red colour which lasted for a long time after sunset, during one glorious moment I could see overhead stars while the sky was on fire. The view of this stunning sky over the distant lights of Cookstown made for a magical memory. One page report with 7 images and 1 video clip. - REPORT. Epic Cookstown Sunset - January 19th 2020
   
Detailed image report beginning with a moonlit shoot at Swatragh Church then evolving into three days and two nights of Winter chasing during the cold unstable air mass behind storm Ciara from Feb 10th to Feb 13th 2020. During this busy period I chased both inland and at the coast, I experienced snow and hail showers, severe squalls, ocean lightning, superb Winter convection, damaged live power lines, photogenic Cbs over the ocean during twilight with stars and wonderful aerial scenes of snow on Benbradagh by drone. One page report with 33 images and 4 video clips. - REPORT. Storm Cirara, Winter Convection, Snow & Drone Scenes - February 2020
   

After storm Ciara it wasn't long before a new storm arrived in the form of Dennis on February 16th 2020 which would bring gales and convective potential. Roisin and I got up early and went chasing for the day with the intention of targeting unstable skies to the NW. We arrived on Benone Strand where we got treated to a very dynamic ocean with beautiful swells and rolling waves crashing close to shore in nice light. Many people came to watch the sea, several got trapped in the sand (including us) with several tidal surges and an ocean thunderstorm. Later from Gortmore we experienced +70mph winds from a severe squall with hail which shook the van so badly we thought we were going to tip over, a very exciting day indeed. One page report with 17 images and 2 video clips. - REPORT.

Storm Dennis, Thunderstorms & Gortmore Severe Squall - February 16th 2020
   
After a long Winter battling wet snow set-ups we finally got rewarded with beautiful snow scenes. Between February 25th and 27th 2020 I spent three days snow chasing in the Sperrins which resulted in my finest scenes of the season, from morning thundersnow to stunning snow landscapes on Glenshane Pass, Birren Road, Mullaghmore and Moneyneany by drone and climaxing with a vivid diamond dust optics display in the form of striking Sundogs and a Parhelic Circle over snow complimented by strongly sheared snow cells which made for a very photogenic and rewarding period. One page report with 27 images and 4 video clips. - REPORT. Moneyneany Winter Scenes & Vivid Sundogs - February 26th 2020
   
Report documenting aerial filming of a light pollution protest at the Greencastle GPO then on March 12th 2020 I was treated to a surprise night snowfall which resulted in a late night solo Winter chase on Glenshane Pass. The night began filming cars and trucks spinning out on their way up the mountain then the drama evolved into peace and beauty when the clouds parted and the fresh snow was illuminated by bright moonlight. I shot stills and time lapse footage using two DSLRs and captured my old favourite derelict house in moonlit snow. The best scene of the night, and perhaps the season, was a moonlit snow star trail over an old gate. One page report with 9 images and 2 video clips. - REPORT. Glenshane Pass Moonlit Snow Scenes - March 12th 2020
   
Detailed image report documenting three back to back nights of superb clear skies to observe and shoot the Zodiacal Light, planet Venus and hunt down Comet C/2019 Y4 ATLAS by telescope. I spent the first two nights at Beaghmore Stone Circles where we met lovely people and observed through my 8" telescope. On the third night Roisin and I went to Ballintoy on the north coast and documented the ZL with John Fagan, Paul Martin and Tracy Sharkey where we got treated to amazing skies and even a faint aurora display. These were three memorable and special nights before the Covid-19 lock down arrived. One page report with 18 images and 1 video clip. - REPORT. Zodiacal Light, Venus & Faint Aurora At Beaghmore Stone Circles & Ballintoy - March 2020
   
Its lock down during the Covid-19 pandemic here in N. Ireland and we have been experiencing our finest period of weather for a very long time. Strong high pressure brought back to back days of sunshine, blue skies, warm temps and no rain for two weeks which also presented me with many clear nights during which I have been tracking three comets as they moved among the stars from night to night. If this wasn't good enough I experienced two days in a row of complex sun halo displays with sundogs, UTA, CZA, parry arcs, supralateral arc and even a full 360 degree parhelic circle. These were among my finest halo captures to date due to so many forms being present during a single apparition, what a wonderful period this was. One page report with 21 images and 3 video clips. - REPORT. Complex Sun Halo Phenomena During Lock Down - April 23rd & 24th 2020
   
June 14th 2020, lock down restrictions lifted which coincided with the first big thunderstorm outbreak of the season. 1300 CAPE, strong humidity and solar heating, sea breeze convergence zone and 40 knots DLS in the west would fire intense organized thunderstorms. Models indicated the best potential would be in a target area between Omagh & Sligo. This was an historic chase day as five car loads of us chased west in a coordinated storm chase with Nigel McFarland, Paul Martin, John Fagan & Colleen Webb. We got treated to eight storms, the most explosive convection I've ever seen and climaxing with a fantastic photogenic multicell storm with shelf cloud over the fields at Mullaghmore accompanied by two hours of thunder. What a fantastic day with 13.5 hours spent on the road. One page report with 23 images and 2 videos. - REPORT. Intense Thunderstorms Over Mullaghmore Co. Sligo - June 14th 2020
   
June 15th 2020, second day in a row of big thunderstorms across N. Ireland with high CAPE, strong shear and convergence which produced an outbreak of HP storms. I chased all day through Co. Tyrone and intercepted 7 storms, encountered intense cores and flash flooding then two more storms on the way home. The climax was the amazing sheared storm near Omagh which I watched from Pigeon Top with Paul Martin, this storm had the largest updraught plume I have ever experienced in my entire life with rock solid clouds and explosive formation. The storm itself had an intense core with rain foot and huge back rain free base with rotation and possible RFD slot with supercellular traits, an amazing day. One page report with 20 images and 2 video clips. - REPORT. Tyrone Storm Chasing & Amazing Updraught On Omagh Cell - June 15th 2020
   
Chase report covering two days of action beginning on June 25th when I drove to Cushendun at night to watch lightning from elevated storms and a likely supercell over Scotland in the company of Nigel McFarland and Colleen Webb. The following day brought big CAPE and this time I had a wonderful solo chase from west to north from Co. Tyrone, through the Sperrins and across beautiful countryside as I tracked a sheared thunderstorm which produced a rare Horseshoe Vortex, a suspect wall cloud, a funnel cloud then two more storm intercepts on the way home, what began as a look at the sky ended in an eight hour chase with three storms. One page report with 17 images and 1 video clip. - REPORT. Scotland Night Lightning & Sperrins Storm Chase With Horseshoe Vortex - June 26th 2020
   

 

 

 

Martin McKenna

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