Danger Ahead

August 26th began out southeast of Globe where me and the kiddos purposely ran into my buddy John Sirlin so they could see Aspen whom they just love! We watched some distant storms there, then drove through Safford as more storms pounded that area. We raced south and then eventually ended up at Marsh Station exit for what would be one of the best shows of the summer. We sat at this overpass for over an hour, watched a stunning, super orange sunset, and lightning striking all to our west…which was ideal haha. The colors, the bolts, the light trails from the passing traffic…it all lined up for such an amazing evening.

Ran into Lori Grace Bailey there as well and we all were going bonkers of course! Love nights like this!

Lost//Discovered: Oregon

It’s only taken me about eight months to finally edit a bunch of stills from our annual Lost//Discovered road trip. My buddies Andrew, Aaron, Jay and Jason, along with myself, flew to Oregon, rented an RV and did a trip down the coast, then back inland to find some waterfalls and then three of us ended up at Mount Hood to finish the adventure.

Here are the pics. Hope you enjoy!

 

Illuminate

Have tried and failed so many times trying to get lightning after dark at the Grand Canyon. Years of driving up there to only come home empty handed. It’s a 3.5 hour trip one-way to just sit in a spot and wait and wait and wait and not only hope for a storm to pop-up, but for it to be out over the Canyon and also to not rain on you. So many things have to come together for it to work out.

Last Monday I was watching the models and it sure looked like Wednesday would be a good day for storms up there and even some potentially at night. I left at 7am that morning and was up there just in time to watch some good daytime stuff, even scored some bolts at sunset out over the Canyon. It was all great, but they looked to be dying out. I figured I got skunked once again.

My buddy John Sirlin came up as well and as it got dark, beyond hope, some cells popped up just south of the Grand Canyon Village and started moving north/northeast. Then bolts began exploding, but out over the plateau where you can’t see the landing point. All we did was wish and pray it would come out over the Canyon itself.

And then it did. One was on the edge. And then one was out over the middle. And we cheered and clapped loudly amidst the chilly temps and high wind. It was incredible to see something so massive lit up in front of you even for a brief moment.

This bolt was the last one we saw…a huge positive well away from the precip core. So much power to light up something so massive at the Grand Canyon. I love all the shadows and textures, even the Colorado River totally visible.

Bathed in Light

I must be learning how to be more patient these days, or at least, maybe finally realizing I can’t be on every storm, so might as well do the best I can with what I got. I was way down south yesterday, near Santa Rosa and Pisinemo with some really nice storms, but I had a bad feeling that they wouldn’t last into the night. At the same time, I see a nice line moving into Phoenix and realized I’m probably hosed.

In the past, I may have turned around and raced back home in a panic, but yesterday I stuck it out, got in front of the storms moving towards Organ Pipe and saw some of that magical monsoon light that shows why it’s special to chase out here.
Only captured two lightning strikes yesterday, this was the first and made the entire trip worth it. The rain was cresting the peaks, the sun was blazing on the desert landscape and it was all stunning. There is a little rainbow behind the left saguaro, plus an even fainter second one near the bolt. That Organ Pipe area has really grown on me this year. Always something awesome happening out that way.

And now it’s bed time. I had a time-lapse/photo gig at PIR shooting DC Solar construction lighting equipment at 1am this morning and got home around 5:30. Haven’t slept at all! Time to crash!

A good omen

Hoping this is a good omen for the Cards upcoming season 🙂

Wednesday’s chase was a long one and ended early Thursday morning around 1am with a final storm in the Tolleson area. I had seen a recent shot of the Cardinals stadium so it was in my head and I remembered where a good view was from when I did some work for ESPN back when we had the Super Bowl.

The storm was dying, but I got lucky that it still tossed out a few bolts, this one in particular being pretty nice! I swear I’m never in town for storms these days, usually far away in the desert or southern Arizona, so it was fun to play around with different compositions for once.

A great way to end the night…especially as things are once again dry for a few days. Hoping for more weather early next week.

Chuar Butte

The Grand Canyon has been an elusive prey. I’ve made countless trips up there the past few years trying to get lightning on a good storm and been skunked every time. Last year I finally got a downburst right in front of me…but no bolts. A few years before I got some strikes out on the Little Colorado plateau, but nothing in the Canyon itself. Always a long trip to come home with little success.

Well that all finally ended Friday, and it was with this shot that I didn’t even know I had captured until I was going through images in Lightroom. A perfect thunderstorm with a beautiful little strike hitting smack in the middle of an island plateau on the eastern side of the Canyon. I squealed a little bit when I saw this 🙂

The time-lapse of this storm exploding and dumping rain will be cool too, super stoked to have come away not only with some great stuff, but to have spent the entire day with my kiddos as well was well worth the time and sunburns!

Power

A heavy downburst of rain explodes outwards as it hits the ground, sending dusty outflow headed for Casa Grande. Lightning shoots out of the front of the rainshafts slamming in the ground.

Drove 45 minutes for about 14 minutes worth of shooting and that was it…but what a way to kick off Monsoon 2017 four nights ago just northeast of Casa Grande. Storms moving southwest towards that area weren’t dying out like expected, so the kids and I went into emergency drill mode and got everything in the car in record time, and bolted to McCartney Road just off I-10 and watched some crazy bolts flash before us.

Asher was our spotter on the way down, and hopefully I’ll post some short video later of his enthusiasm every time he saw a “flash” haha.

The storm itself was different, not sure why. Bolts were arcing out away from the cell over and over which seemed unusual…and I thought I saw some striations up in the cloud base briefly, but was hard to tell. Definitely a lot of drama with the downburst and dust exploding southwestward. That area is one of my favorites for that very reason…all that dust and flatness just adds so much to an image.

Haboob over Organ Pipe

I always knew southern Arizona near the border gets interesting weather…I think I saw a brief landspout down south of Three Points last year, it seems like supercells occur more that way as well, so with some shear in place yesterday and models hinting at storms popping in that vicinity, I waited for a few hours until things started going. Wow once they got going, they exploded. Big hail cores, supercell structure, severe warnings, pea-sized hail hitting the truck. One of my favorite chases here in AZ, culminating in this epic haboob with a stacked shelf cloud rolling over the stunning landscape of Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument.

This is a 9-image panorama just to get the entire structure of thing thing in one frame. I have a couple time-lapses I’ll be working on later which should be pretty awesome…definitely up there with my favorites of all-time out here!
And rad to meet up with my buddy Trey Greenwood down there for this chase, we were pretty stoked to see this yesterday…although I have a feeling this kind of thing may happen down there more than we realize!

Undulatus Asperatus Sunset (Asperitas)

 

All spring I chase storms across the United States to collect footage of supercells, lightning, tornadoes and whatever I might find. Generally I don’t release any time-lapse clips from those chases until I put out my final end of season compilation film. But last night in North Dakota was too unreal to let sit on my hard drive for months.

We were chasing northeast of Bismarck, North Dakota and as storms were dying out, we decided to go for a lone cell on the backside of a line of storms. We knew it had a hail core on it and we were hoping that we might get some nice sunset color at least on the storm as it moved past us, and hopefully some lightning bolts. But we had no idea what we were about to encounter. The clouds were taking on a very different, curvy, wave-like appearance and suddenly we knew what we were seeing.

Undulatus asperatus clouds are a rare phenomenon and actually the newest named cloud type in over 60 years. I’ve seen tons of photos of them, but never anything like what we witnessed last night. We had a storm with hail in front of us and flashing lightning which was fantastic. But then we had this layer of undulatus clouds flowing across our view. Watching them was amazing already, but then the sun slowly appeared from behind some clouds to the west and lit up our storm like nothing we’ve ever seen before. We were like kids in a candy store. Running around, doing our best to capture it from every possible angle.

I did two time-lapses…one on the right side with a 50mm and then a wide angle with the 11mm. The colors here are real. I only increased the contrast. In fact, I was thinking of actually REDUCING the saturation because of how intense the colors looked with the contrast added. But that’s how it was and I left it that way. Six of us were there and all our photo and videos look the same.

This was undoubtedly one of the most incredible scenes I’ve witnessed chasing storms for the past 8 years.

Music: “Bayt Lahm” by Ryan Taubert

Gear: Two Canon 5DSR’s, Canon 11-24mm, Sigma Art 50mm 1.4

McLean, Texas

Couldn’t be happier that Sarah, Sandra and Josh all got to see their first ever tornado yesterday southwest of McLean, Texas! Although Josh and I did see a tiny little needle twister last week, this one was legit! More information on my storm chaser tours.

Was amazing to watch this happen right before our eyes. This new area of rotation just formed right in front of us, the rain began to wrap quickly, a clear slot appeared and suddenly it started dropping funnels. It reached the ground before it ever fully condensed, so we knew we got one, but it was awesome when it finally looked like this!

It disappeared in rain, so we went north and then it was there again off to the left, and roped out gorgeously over a hill. Will be sharing that one later as well!
Resting today in Woodward, TX…tomorrow looks huge.