2006 - part 4: The coming of the anti-drought!
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I thought I'd start this new page off with a
photo because it demonstrates how the drought
ended in Mid-Wales far better than words can do!
This was taken on the Forge road, on the
outskirts of Machynlleth on an August afternoon.
August 2006 began with the bone-dry conditions
continuing, but welcome rain in the shape of
thunderstorms affected the area on several
occasions during the second half of the month,
with the Bank Holiday Monday deluges even
bringing a tornado with them. More about that
This gave the chance to get out there and find a
few big clouds to photograph instead of peering
at flowers, butterflies and mudcracks through the
"macro" bit on my lens. The first
thunder-day - the 17th - was rather weird in that
storms fired to my east, and later on to my west,
with nothing in between. I drove SE almost to the
Welsh border only to find storm-clouds like this
one becoming more and more obcured by low-level
murk as I got closer to them....
evening, distant anvils to the SW and still clear
skies over the Cambrian Mountains - was I wearing
storm-repellant? These cells are giving rain over
the Cardigan area and out in the bay beyond...
...whilst finally at Borth a cell tried to get
going out to sea. There is evident wind-shear at
work here. The updraught part of the cell is the
hard-edged, dark rain-free cloudbase to the L.
The updraught then rises diagonally for a few
thousand feet until rain begins to fall from the
cloud in the centre of the photo - the
fallstreaks can just be made out. This is
happening because winds aloft are stronger than
those lower down - to the extent that the
updraught has been tilted to the R. If no shear
was present the cloud would simply have bubbled
cell fizzled almost as quickly as it formed. The
disintegrated updraught remnants are to the L
while above and R of them there is what must be
the tiniest Cb anvil I have ever seen!
The 18th saw me at a meeting in Tremadog in North
Wales whilst to the SE a cluster of multicell
storms grew. These were messy affairs. On my way
home I stopped above Penrhyndeudraeth and watched
the lightning and listened to the unique echoing
boom that thunder always makes in the mountains.
Roads are busy at this time of year and many of
the drivers are visitors who don't know them
well: with torrential rain added in, they can be
quite hazardous. Thus, shunning the quicker
inland route, I headed S on the coast-road
through Harlech and Barmouth as the cells drifted
NW. Coming inland up the Mawddach Estuary to get
to the Penmaenpool bridge, I ran into extremely
heavy rain at Bontddu and pulled off the road for
10 minutes while it passed. This was the view
further SW again, from above the Friog cliffs S
of Fairbourne, under the edge of the storm. Very
gloomy, murky skies, from which odd deep rumbles
continued, cover NW Wales. Not all storms are
23rd saw some modest convection in the evening,
so I headed up into the mountains, stopping
en-route to grab this and several other images of
the multilayered clouds over the hills above
....before continuing SE, to eventually shoot
this post-sunset glowing anvil throwing an eerie
light over my vantage-point.
On the way back home, the layered clouds were
still there. High up, cirrus was still
illuminated although the sun had long since
dropped over the horizon.
Bank Holiday Monday, August 28th, finally brought
some meaner-looking stormclouds to Mid-Wales in
the late afternoon, on an unstable nor-Westerly
airflow. Eager to get the chance of some action,
I headed to the coast north of Aberdyfi. I was
not to be disappointed....
Multiple cells, giving sporadic rumbles of
thunder, were scattered around out to sea with
clearly some very heavy rain-cores...
Telephoto of the edge of a precip-core....
Some interesting layering was present, giving the
clouds some nice perspective. This cell went on
to hit Aberystwyth, where a right old deluge was
reported, together with gusty squally winds. The
wedge-shaped clouds, ahead of the rain in the
middle of the image, probably mark that cell's
gust-front, whilst to the left at the back of
another cell out-of-view, is an apparent
wall-cloud - a steep sided lowering of the
condensation (i.e. cloud) base. Such things can
be the precursor to waterspouts or tornadoes....
This one is a case of the camera being fooled!
The cell has passed now, and the sun has broken
through the cirrus of the anvil; the camera's
light-meter has metered for the very strong patch
of incident light and thus taken a fast exposure,
thereby underexposing the foreground. It's
created quite a moody effect....
...and again, some time later. Storm-light is
often very contrasty and, because the subject is
the sky, the foreground does not necessarily
matter that much, especially at this place, where
it is a golf-course with sand-dunes in the
Later that evening, further small but potent
storms made landfall in the Llanrhystud district,
about 10 miles S of Aberystwyth. Heavy rain,
thunder and lightning were reported.....
....and, right at the end of the storm's passing,
a sudden increase to torrential rain and an
unbelievable, furious, roaring wind which, upon
its passing, left clear starry skies. The wind -
a tornado - passed through the Morfa Farm
caravan-site just S of Llanrhystud. In a
characteristically narrow path, caravan-awnings
were ripped away, poles and all, and much plastic
garden furniture became airborne.
The following morning, I attended the site in my
TORRO capacity to find that the residents had
cleared most of the damage away. They showed me
the destroyed awnings and the path the tornado
had taken, pointing out, down-path, the area of
debris fallout. Here, in open farmland, they had
picked up ripped-up bits of awning, broken poles
and the remains of their garden furniture....
....most of which was smashed into small pieces
like these! This was only a very weak tornado - a
T1 on the intensity scale with winds of 55-72mph
and damage likely to be:
"deckchairs, small plants, heavy litter
becomes airborne; minor damage to sheds. More
serious dislodging of tiles, slates, chimney
pots. Wooden fences flattened. Slight damage to
hedges and trees."
It is possible that it was a waterspout that came
ashore, given the proximity of the site to the
coast: the apparent heavy rain that accompanied
it also supports this albeit unproven notion. It
clearly died quickly, with only a short path and
a 200m long fallout zone. Waterspouts often die
out quickly on landfall.
It does not take much imagination to figure what
a tornado with the power of the July 2005 one (T4
to T5) that hit Birmingham would have done here,
with almost all caravans in occupation. One would
expect multiple casualties. Luckily, this was
just a weak version - yet the two children who
were asleep under an awning that was ripped away
over their heads will remember that particular
Bank Holiday Monday for the rest of their lives!
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