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Crimson Bolts

Combing through the archives of photos I never edited, here’s one from monsoon 2015 west of Tonopah, AZ. I had the kids with me, I was running a fever, but this isolated storm started going up and we went after it. At the time I had no time-lapse clip I felt was good enough for the ending of Monsoon II, and I was pushing myself hard. But on this night, I knew I got it.

Incredible storm, at sunset, with crazy bolts and gorgeous colors. What a fantastic night.

Rapid City

Rapid City

June 1st, 2015…my buddy James Langford told me if I didn’t punch the core of this storm I’d regret it forever. And he was right. Once I popped out the other side and saw this, my mind was blown.

Been wanting to do a black & white version of this storm, so here you go! Still one of the craziest supercell structures I’ve personally seen.

Swisshelm

A smattering of lightning bolts slam into the Swisshelm Mountains in southeastern Arizona

This will go down as one of my favorite chasing storms in Arizona this past summer. I didn’t end up with my best photos of all-time or anything, but it was just the night itself. I sat here watching gorgeous mammatus light up at sunset and as it got dark, the lightning started blasting on three sides of me, and I watched it slowly march over the Swisshelm Mountains to my east.

This was with the 135mm so I was super tight on the mountains hoping to get some close bolt action. I love how they are just destroying the mountainsides here while a powerful downburst is creating an exploding wall of dust that end up hitting us soon after.

The bolts were just so intense, it’s one of those nights shooting lightning that you live for.

Shelf near San Manuel

A monster shelf cloud moves towards the small community of San Manuel in southeastern Arizona

A monster shelf cloud moves towards the small community of San Manuel in southeastern Arizona

What a fantastic chase on Monday. I hung around the Marana area for a lot of the afternoon, but when a new cluster of storms blew up southwest of Casa Grande, I raced up there hoping they would do something great.

And wow they did. I’ll post more pictures later, but when I arrived south of Picacho, I time-lapsed a gorgeous storm as it slowly grew in strength and became weakly supercellular. The dusty outflow was intense and I cannot wait to get those time-lapses edited!
I raced back ahead of it and by this time the storm was picking up speed and it was tough to stay in front. As I neared Oracle Junction, a new cell blew up and essentially merged with the old one and now a shelf cloud was rapidly forming.

A slow truck kept me from racing as far ahead as I wanted, but by the time I got to the San Manuel Airport, the shelf cloud had turned into easily one of the top 3 I’ve seen here in Arizona. It was stunning, moving fast and behind it, golf ball sized hail was falling in places.

Such a blast of a day…so rare here to chase a long-track storm. This guy essentially blew up near Chuichu and died east of San Manuel. Almost 80 miles. Wow.

Near Lamesa, Texas

Outflow boundaries collided near Lamesa, Texas and despite it being a marginal day, we ended up with a gorgeous supercell for about 40 minutes.

The third day of my Plains Chase Tour this spring was a marginal one, we woke up in Garden City on May 31st and by mid-afternoon we were in Lubbock chasing storms to our south. We got on one that was okay, but then a storm near Lamesa formed and we noticed an outflow boundary headed for it from the east. We hoped it would give it some extra juice and by the time we got down there, it certainly turned into a full-fledged gorgeous supercell for about an hour.

This was southeast of Lamesa and wow did it look stunning. All the dust churning underneath and the teethy low clouds on the left side. One of my favorite storms from this spring and all on a marginal day!

Obliterate

Something like hellfire rains down on these mountains west of Phoenix, with a massive bolt landing right atop Courthouse Rock.

Last night didn’t appear to have much promise, but me and the kiddos followed the storms from near Whittman all the way west of Tonopah and set up near Salome Highway and Interstate 10 to time-lapse a stormy sunset. But the storms didn’t disappear, they hung around, built up and as a new cell started dropping rain closer to us, the bolts began to crash down. Couldn’t believe it.

This was the best shot of the night…the left peak is one I always notice when I head west out of Phoenix. Just learned it’s called Courthouse Rock and on the right are the hills near Triple Eye. I wanted to turn around and go home a million times yesterday, especially with only 3 hours sleep and with ALL three kids with me, but you never know what’s going to happen.

Forked

A lightning bolt lands in the Four Peaks Wilderness area northeast of Phoenix, seeming to fork into two directions at the last minute as it strikes the side of a mountain.

A cakewalk chase yesterday…spent over 90 minutes at this spot just off the Beeline Highway where it intersects with Bush Highway. A storm to my north built up and died, then storms to our east went up and the lightning display after sunset was gorgeous. Here’s one of my favorites…always love being able to see where a strike hits the ground, it adds so much more dimension to a photo.

Today begins a hectic few weeks of July for me, as two film companies will be out attempting to capture dust storms. One crew from Japan, one from England. I’m a consulting on both projects, although I’ll also be filmed as part of the one from Japan. Stoked to be a part of them, but it’s gonna be crazy. Doing location scouting today and tomorrow. Today may actually give us a dust storm if things pan out!

Crashdown

A powerful downburst of rain dumps over the Superstition Mountains in Apache Junction, creating strong outflow winds that kick up tons of dust, lowering visibility to zero at times.

Our first chase of the 2016 summer monsoon here in Arizona paid off huge last night with a crazy lightning storm over the Superstition Mountains! A ton of bolts on camera and time-lapse, but it was once this downburst of rain happened that I was loving it. I stood in the road, getting blasted by dust and sand, praying for a bolt to happen because the downburst looked so sick, the especially with the way the rain foot was bending outwards in both directions…not to mention the dust everywhere adding all kinds of drama to the scene. Shortly after this though I had to run, the tiny pieces of sand were too much to handle and a few bits were still stuck in my hair this morning 🙂

Awesome start to this summer, can’t wait to see what else is yet to come!

Farewell to the plains for 2016!

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This was one of the last images I shot this past Wednesday east of Turkey, TX, my final day chasing the plains this year. Over the span of two months, I chased for 18 total days and if you toss in travel days, I was away from home for more than that. Also put roughly 21,000 miles on Vera II across 9 states, not including Arizona.
It’s sorta hard to see it gone already after waiting so long for spring to get here. My first day out was April 15th and the last was June 15th. And now the monsoon will keep me busy until fall but then it will be waiting for April to return once more.

Highlight of my year was the Wynnewood tornado for sure. Never seen one that close and powerful before, it was astounding to behold. I figured that would be it for me this year, but all told I saw over 12 tornadoes, five of which I actually caught on time-lapse and can’t wait to share soon 🙂

I will forget names, but while I tend to chase solo, I get loads of input from guys like Andy Hoeland, Brandon Sullivan, Jeremy Degenhart, James Langford, Brett Wright, John Sirlin, Max Olson and Mike Mezeul II. Heck, Jenny Brown saved my ass from driving all the way to Montana last week instead of sticking to Texas and getting this final shot 🙂 I appreciate the help and I learned so much this spring but I feel like I still known nothing haha.
Excited to once again have gotten to hang with guys like Willoughby Owen, Marko Korošec, Brad Hannon, Dean Gill, Daniel Shaw, Niccolò Ubalducci, Valentina Abinanti, and others. Finally meeting Dennis Oswald randomly in Stratford, TX. And Justin Terveen wherever we were. I respect you all so much and you are all so inspiring to me!

Of course running into the AZ crew, Tori, Christian, Trey, Corbin, Chris, Jerrod, Kevin, and John was fantastic. So proud of our little group out here and what everyone saw this spring! Tons of others I ran into…Jay, Matt, Blake, James, Jack, David, Wesley, Paul, Paul, Jeremy, Jack, Clyve, Jane, Shane (thanks for meeting us man!) and a bunch of other new faces and names. And I’m horrible with names, sorry about that!

Nick Drieschman and Joseph Barton Comstock…you guys made me laugh every time I ran into you, thank you for that 🙂 Hope you guys are proud of what you are doing, I could tell by the people with you that you were killing it!

Truly appreciate Sarah Al Sayegh, Brad Girard, Mike DeVos and Daniel for coming along for our little private tour! Appreciate your trust and support, I had an amazing time with you all! See you next year 🙂

Apologies for the length and wordiness of this post 🙂 I have tons of photos to work on, but I’ve been so focused on my next time-lapse film that I haven’t done much else. It’s actually nearly complete, but with family in town and the monsoon ramping up soon hopefully, not sure how soon I can finish. Bummed I missed Dodge City and that epic week but I’m pumped for what I captured this year! More tornadoes than I thought and some pretty gorgeous storms and scenery.

Thanks again to everyone for their support and kind words, and to everyone watching the live stream on Youtube this spring! Already looking forward to next year!

Waves

A shelf cloud passed over minutes before, leaving in its wake low hanging clouds that looked as if you were staring up at a crashing wave in the ocean.

A shelf cloud passed over this house minutes before, leaving in its wake low hanging clouds that looked like an ocean wave rolling over you from underwater. It was a stunning scene and the time-lapse of this shelf rolling over my position is pretty insane. Can’t wait to share it when my next film comes out later in June!

May 16th, 2016 near Spearman, TX