Castle Rock

A favorite image of mine from this past summer that I’ve been saving for whatever reasons, but figured I’d post it finally. Sometimes you like an image so much you are afraid to post it thinking others wont feel the same…silly, but it’s real.

Captured this about 3 miles from the Mexico board in the Coronado National Forest west of Nogales, while on a workshop with Paula and Karen. It was quite the show and shocking to us that this storm that seems to be dropping rain on the other side of the mountains, was putting down lightning strikes on OUR side. That hill got hit at least two other times and it was quite amazing to see from up so high.

This area seems so non-Arizona, it was almost like we WERE in another country for a little bit. Green mountains that definitely have more of a central America look to them. Such a gorgeous part of the state.

Quinter Supercell

May 18th was a big storm day across western and southwestern Kansas…but we sat in one spot along an outflow boundary waiting hours for initiation and missed all kinds of storms going on, even a beast in SE Colorado…but finally near Park, KS a storm went up and we punched through the south side of it. At first it seemed to be headed north, but then it pulled off a nifty right turn as it latched on the boundary and headed into Quinter, which is where this shot was taken.

Not your typical stacked plates structure for a supercell, but it was stunning nonetheless and at one point seemed to have a funnel halfway to the ground. I never knew I caught a lightning bolt until scrolling through the time-lapse this morning! Lovely surprise!

Reaching Out

Other than Tescott, my favorite day chasing last spring was May 23rd in western Nebraska. Started off frustrated when we found out we had missed a tornado near Roswell, NM after being there just the day before…but then as the day got late, our supercell finally intensified and put on a gorgeous display of lightning and sunset colors amongst the sandhills. This was west of Tryon…with a little special appearance from Brandon Ivey and his tour group 🙂

Lovely to see the faces on Sandra Herber and Ajit Menon during this chase…finally got on something amazing on our last chase day!

Salome Strike

Yesterday my workshop ended and since some of the models were calling for huge storms in Tucson to kick out a dust storm up the 10 in the afternoon, I hit up Benson for a bit to shoot around, but it quickly became apparent the dust storm wasn’t gonna happen until possibly way late.

So I raced to Phoenix (anxious to be home after six days anyway), caught the storms rolling into town up on the 101/64th street, hung out with storm pals Jerrod Harris, John Moore and some others! Lightning wasn’t happening though, so I moved onto the west side of town, caught a nice bolt producer over the White Tanks and then took a chance further west on Salome Highway where I caught this majestic beast.

The storm was kicking out some good strikes all around me, but there wasn’t anywhere I could shoot out of the rain…so I did something I usually hate, which is to just be patient and wait for the rain to pass 😂

The moment the rain stopped, I jumped out, setup up tthe Sony at 14mm and jumped back in the truck. A huge flash happened and I swear the bolt appeared to be right in front of me, but it turned out just to be the one in the left edge of this frame. So I jumped back out of the truck cursing because I missed it…and then saw the photo and was like…oh okay…that’ll do donkey…that’ll do 🙂

A huge positive or clear air CG…looks like it landed just across the freeway, a couple hundred feet away or so. It froze the profile of a passing truck as well, almost looking like it was near hitting it. Love the highway itself lighting up from being wet with rain.

Later I ended up on I-8 in the wee hour of the morning, but that’s for another time 🙂

Dusty Wave

Well my final monsoon workshop of the summer was utterly fantastic. Two haboobs, tons of lightning and cool storms, and it couldn’t possibly have been more fantastic to have Karen Wright and Paula Corrette-Fay along for it. Two sweet ladies, they endured late nights, little sleep, crazy dust and windy conditions. Not to mention nerve-racking close lightning on one occasion 🙂 And now that she saw my storm chaser diet that includes quite a few McDonald’s cheeseburgers, Paula is worried about my diet

But big-time thanks to Ruth Montgomery for letting me use her house for both my workshops this summer…she’s the sweetest woman I know, cooks such amazing food and takes care of all of us. I’m so thankful to be her friend and have her in my life!

This photo was taken two nights ago which turned out to be our last chase. Karen really wanted to see a haboob and it was fantastic to be able to deliver on that because the past few years have been slow on that front.

This was looking towards Maricopa and vicinity along I-8. The northern edge of the storm looked a lot more defined than the stuff rolling down the interstate, so we stopped to time-lapse that direction and to take some pics. Gorgeous sunset light and a wonderful haboob.

Close

Not gonna lie…I enjoy getting close to lightning. Yeah, I’ll hide in the truck when my cameras are shooting…but I just really enjoy the close bolts and all the detail in them.

Yesterday was fun in the afternoon down southeast of Tucson…got some nice daytime bolts, enjoyed some flash flooding near Corona de Tucson…but after that, with storms in all directions except for where I was in Tucson…I couldn’t decide. West…east…north closer to home. Ugh. Went north, it sucks, went back to Tucson…pulled over, took a shot, then it was insane rain everywhere and I was done.

But storms popped over Phoenix while I was down there and so I was hoping to get lucky on the way home. Lightning was hitting Maricopa and near Sacaton north of me, so I setup on 187 and was hoping to get a bolt striking nearby up I-10 (which is where the car light trails are in the photo). But I setup the 50mm first and looked away as my buddy Chris Frailey pulled up, then looked back and suddenly a massive CG hit what felt like right in front of me. I stumbled as I raced to the car to get the wide angle, and two more bolts slammed down in the meantime. They were landing just about 1-2 miles away.

I got the 11-24mm ready, set to 15mm, calmly focused, f/8, iso 100, set it up, hit the shutter and BOOM this happened and then that was it haha.

25 second exposure, it all hit at once (other than the distance left one) and it was magnificent. Been waiting for a monster bolt like this for awhile now.

Swallowing Tempe

I never end up in Tempe for these things, but the way Thursday’s haboob progressed more north/northeast, and how behind we were, I skipped downtown Phoenix and went to this spot where I’ve shot a ton of times for other things…in fact, some of my very first images I took about eight years ago down here.

It’s a quick spot to get to, with an iconic view of downtown Tempe with the Mill Avenue bridges. The time-lapse is pretty sweet, I got two from here, wish I could have shot two more as looking east was pretty gnarly as well.

Oh and a Southwest Airlines plane is in there trying to outrace it

Green Monster

Yesterday didn’t seem like anything too exciting. Started south of town early afternoon, dust storm was weak, came home, picked up the kids and we decided to play the storms out west by Tonopah because I had a feeling that the action would end up propagating out there. Things got more intense with strong downbursts near the Salome Highway/I-10 intersection as an outflow boundary progressed northward.

The storms started forming over me as I raced towards the town of Aguila, dodging donkeys along the way while marveling at the sunset light that was beginning to shine on everything. As I started making it on the north side of the storms, my cell data returned and I realized the storms I had raced under were intense. I was looking up at the cloud above me and suddenly saw shelfy structure…and when I pulled over, it looks like a supercell for a moment. I couldn’t believe my eyes.

But the most insane thing to me was the green. I’ve never seen green like this in Arizona ever. It was so intense. I was standing there in disbelief that a seemingly average day would suddenly go supernova to have this huge storm with a green hail core. And to make it even more incredible, as it moved towards me, the sunset light somehow exploded and I was just in completer and utter awe.

This image is a tough one for me…I edited it just like I do all the others. Layers of contrast, a teeny bit of vibrance added…but the colors were so whack, I think people will be asking (and have been on Twitter already) if it’s legit. It looked like this to me standing there. Yeah, I edit stuff to look good, but I really tried not to make it look different than it did. I love it

The Sandhills

Probably my favorite day chasing this spring was May 23rd, especially once the storms really got going west of Ogallala, Nebraska. We chased it through Arthur and east, this was one of the final shots of the night, near Tryon after the sun had gone down. The structure was insane. The Sandhills are a tough area but we had good luck this day, and I ran up to a hilltop overlooking the western horizon and got a time-lapse of this gorgeous supercell racing towards us in the dark. Such a wonderful landscape with the grass and sand intermixed, it really made this a fun photo. The colors were a bit tough to nail down, but this is pretty much what it looked like out of camera, but with added contrast, etc.

It would have some more crazy structure after this as well, and it was also beautiful beforehand, especially at sunset with lightning everywhere, but this was a favorite image from my chasing this spring.

Hail No

On May 23rd, after time-lapsing the supercell south of Arthur as it neared highway 61, we raced north to get back ahead. But after five miles or so, the rain stopped momentarily and I looked back to see something in my rear-viewer mirror that made me slam on the brakes.

We jumped out of the truck to one of the most amazing sights I’ve ever seen storm chasing in my career. Only way I can describe this is a supercell with a hail core microburst that seems to happen in the span of five minutes or less. It was crashing so fast and the rain was rapidly approaching from the west, that I had no ability to really time-lapse it.

But it didn’t matter…we stood there in utter amazement…made me once again realize how much I love doing this and why.