The first day of March had some fun weather possibilities…right here in my backyard.
I wasn’t thinking tornadoes or severe weather, but with a strong and cold upper-level low near Point Conception, and with bright sunny skies this Sunday morning, I figured that the atmosphere might get a bit agitated later in the afternoon. I had a work shift at Point Mugu Airport starting at 6 p.m., so if something went up nearby during the afternoon I could check it out. Well, strong cells did indeed develop, and the Conejo Valley and Camarillo area was treated to a very decent thunderstorm from about 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. All I had to do was leave for work about an hour earlier than normal, and stop halfway there to photograph the storm! I don’t think I have had a more convenient chase in my life!
Small hail fell on my house here in Westlake Village around 3 p.m., as a new convective storm tower went up practically overhead. The radar return from this thing was ridiculously unimpressive. The hail was kind of fun, but there was no thunder. I got ready for work, and checked radar again around 4:15 p.m. Great — a nice red blob was now just to my west, near Newbury Park and Thousand Oaks — time to check it out! As I began the drive west on the Ventura Freeway, a great rain-free storm base with a little lowering presented itself to my west — YES!
I stopped along the Highway 101 Conejo Grade (between Newbury Park and Camarillo) and had a pretty decent view of the updraft base which was not too far to my north to northeast. Lightning flashed periodically in the cloud and from cloud-to-ground, and a couple of loud thunder crashes made me quite happy. I had not witnessed a good local spring thunderstorm in quite a while. Here are some wide-angle views of the storm, looking primarily northeast.
There is that one view to the southwest of new development (4th image of the nine above), and that one had lightning with it, too!
The original storm just north of the Conejo grade seemed to sputter some after about 15 minutes, so it was time to head down the grade to Camarillo to check out the newer storms that were south of the freeway. These continued a little with the lightning, they threw some small hail at me along Pleasant Valley Road, and I had great sunset light on a strawberry field with a faint rainbow.
Some heavy rain pushed me south and southwest a few miles towards Point Mugu, with the bright sun blazing away on the horizon. I knew what that meant, and I had enough time to spare along Los Posas Road to get out of the X-terra with the wide-angle lens and to get a little wet.
Not a bad way to begin the work shift!