5/16/97 England chase by Paul Knightley

From: Paul Knightley (spuknitl@reading.ac.uk):

Hi again,
        I said there was a chance of warm-air storms on my last message
and they duly arrived. 
     Friday 16th May was mostly cloudy in the morning, but the sun broke
through in the afternoon. It was very humid with temps. to 21C, and
dewpoints of 19C. A thundery low was over France with an unstable SE-erly
ahead of it. 
   Around 1815BST, Andrew Hislop and I set off to the south on the A33 out
of Reading. The southern sky was very dark..not ideal for chasing as no
individual cells were visible. We noticed several large CC's and once
again headed for Catsbrain Hill. 
   On the hill by 1900BST, we got good video of the CGs which were not
very frequent..about 1 every minute or so. I experienced hair standing up
on my arms, and the radio hum increased dramatically. We hastily retreated
up the road, as a large CG hit somewhere behind us. 
   This activity moved of the the NW, and about 15 minutes later the rain
suddenly came down again, and the lightning restarted.
   Once this had moved off, we could see further lightning to our NE. We
tried to intercept this but failed. We got to the M40, and headed north,
but gave up by jn. 10. 
   Saturday 17th dawned cloudy and clammy. The sun soon broke through, and
iot became warm. 25C, and 21C dewpoints. Andy had gone home to visit his
parents so I had to be content with an "in-situ" chase! 
   At about 1430, I became aware of thunder to the west. A large Cb could
be seen towering into the azure, powder-blue sky. It produced 1 inch
diammeter hail, but this was very mushy and melted on contact with the
ground. The thunder rumbled on for about 20 mins and then it moved off to
the NW. 
   About 5pm, I looked to the N and saw a huge Cb complex, with huge
towers and large anvils. These storms produced cricket-ball sized hail
(just larger than tennis balls!), and a tornado in Aylesbury and Thame,
which are north of Reading.
   It was unfortunate that I couldn't chase that day to see the hail, but
fortunate that we didn't get the chance to lose the windscreen!!


PAUL KNIGHTLEY                                                Dept. of Physics
spuknitl@rdg.ac.uk     http://www.rdg.ac.uk/~spuknitl    University of Reading.

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