Spring 2008 part 2:
dramatic frontal clearance and distant thunderstorms


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May 4th 2008 saw a notable outbreak of thunderstorms up the spine of the UK whilst here in mid-Wales I sat under thick clag all day. Storms were firing in the warmth across Shropshire and as the cold front that brought the clag showed signs on satellite imagery of clearing from the west, I thought an evening trip to the top of the Machynlleth-Llanidloes mountain road might bring a few results....

dense fog on Dylife mountain road

The view on arrival. Time to sit it out and wait for the back end of the front to pass over....

fog clearing, dylife mountain road

As it did!

fog clearing, dylife mountain road

And the mountains begin to appear, range by range....

cadair idris

Cadair Idris through the telephoto lens.....

cold front clearing over Glaslyn

Up on the top, interesting waveforms appeared, marked out by these undulating wisps of cloud. Waves are a frequent feature in any airflow over a mountain-range.....


More of them, with Glaslyn nestling in a hollow in the landscape....

Trannon windfarm

Ragged scud with the Trannon windfarm (above Carno) in the background...

thunderstorms over Shropshire from dylife

Finally the front cleared to the point where the tops of the thunderstorms many tens of miles away in Shropshire became visible above its grey nimbostratus....

Cambrian mountains at sunset

Back on the other side and a clear evening descends over the country around Machynlleth and the Dyfi Valley...

sunset over cambrian mountains

View of the Tarrenhendre ridge on the N side of the Dyfi Valley.....


...and a telephoto of the same as dusk falls on the valley.

Not a bad little shoot, then: frontal clearances often provide something of interest, with the light constantly changing as the process goes on. It's worth having a camera ready for such occasions!

convective towers near Cemmaes Road

3 days later (May 7th) widespread convection looked likely but struggled to get going despite the heat. I went out in the afternoon for a scout around and decided the most intense towers were forming to my north, towards Dinas Mawddwy, so I opted to head for Bwlch y Groes - the highest tarmac public road in Wales, and with a good view at the top....

aran fawddwy from bwlch y groes


The hazy view from the summit of the pass to Aran Fawddwy through a 300mm lens. Where are the towering clouds now??

This is a good example of why mobile internet access would be a useful thing for me to acquire, although I've not done badly without it: storms finally fired SE of Aberystwyth and move N across the hills and lower Dyfi Valley. I could soon see them in the distance, so an about-turn was executed....

tap nyth yr eryr

....back down the steep pass, past the steep mountainside of Tap nyth-yr-eryr (above) and on via Llanymawddwy to Dinas and the A470. Now the storms were clearly in view. One isolated one was heading straight for Machynlleth with the others some way to the west. I continued on and when I reached Machynlleth I headed straight for the golf-course....

cumulonumbus cloud over machynlleth

...where I just managed to squeeze this in using my ultrawide! Thunder boomed in the distance and a few large raindrops fell from the cloud, but it was a weak cell and soon fizzled out.

The next chase was on May 11th but it'll be a while before I get the images from the day, so I'll finish off with a typical view on the coast at this time of year - if you know where to look! This is at Tonfanau, just north of Tywyn, where Afon Dysinni flows out into Cardigan Bay.

sea-thrift at Tonfanau


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