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Golden Blue

My final day of chasing the plains last year was June 15th, and it was a chillaxing kind of day. I hung with two friends, Jenny and Justin, and we watched weak supercells spin over fields and we didn’t have to move too much.
Towards the end of the day, a new storm moved in from the southwest and as it neared my position, this beautiful shelf cloud formed just ahead of a stunning blue hail core.
Storms are only months away, I’m starting to get pumped!

The Hand

A creepy, electric hand stretches out across the sky, seemingly originating from the Sand Tank Mountains.

I miss lightning. This was July 1st last year during a monsoon that started early and epic (this cell was a tornado warned storm an hour earlier), and I was standing here with a few buddies watching some amazing lightning in the distance.

Just about three months before my usual chase season begins out on the plains. Can’t wait to get back.

Ackerly

A gorgeous supercell slowly moves over the farmlands of Texas near the town of Ackerly.

Another image from May 31st when we were chasing marginal storms in west Texas hoping for something good and then a boundary collided with a storm near Lamesa and it exploded into a gorgeous supercell for about an hour.
This is near the town of Ackerly as it began to slowly die out, but not before it gave us some stunning lightning, structure and beautiful colors.

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.

Mars

A late season haboob rolls towards Phoenix with the setting sun turning the dust and clouds all shades of purple and orange.

Just when I get Monsoon III all done and exported at 4K ready to release, yesterday had to go and give me two more dust storm clips that absolutely have to go into the film!

This is a frame from the second one…I mean, capturing dust storms is always a blast, but when it happens at sunset with nothing but gnarly desert in front of you…it’s a dream. And someone commented on Facebook that it looks like something on the planet Mars!

Yesterday made the film just a tad better, so I’m getting super excited to release it. Was actually thinking today, but now it will likely be next Tuesday!

Erupt

An isolated supercell south of Paducah, Texas, explodes upwards in an eruption of cumulus.
Other than the Wynnewood tornado day, this isolated gem from June 14th south of Paducah, Texas was probably my favorite storm of the spring.

This is a frame from the time-lapse I shared in my film Vorticity. I had gotten on it earlier on the north side but I knew it was all wrong. The storm started moving more east/southeast, not northeast, so I bailed through some dirt roads and drove south until I got into a position where I though the storm was moving right towards me.

And boy did it. I sat here for around 50 minutes, which is a long time for me when I’m time-lapsing a storm. This beast was exploding upwards with such ferocity, it was incredible. During that entire 50 minutes, the storm never moved off course, it came directly at me and eventually right over my head.

There is nothing quite like an isolated storm. And the crepuscular rays were insane. Definitely a highlight of the spring!

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.

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.

Near Ackerly, Texas

A gorgeous supercell hovers over the farmlands near Ackerly, Texas

May 31st was one of those days where you would have been happy to see just about anything. Marginal, not much hope…and we had woken up early in Garden City, KS and drove all the way to Lubbock, Texas just for a shot.

We got on one storm early, but as it died out, a southern storm near Lamesa was growing and an outflow boundary was headed right for it. Once they merged, the storm went full-blown supercell and it lasted for around an hour…such a treat on a day when we were worried we wouldn’t see much!

Drift

An incredibly cooll scene out at the Four Peaks on July 1st, 2016. Strong winds push a dumping hail core way out ahead of the updraft and on top of the Four Peaks Mountain Range.

One of the coolest things I’ve seen during the monsoon in Arizona. The tower on the left was an incredible updraft that I got to see explode upwards, and then the hail started falling…but strong winds took the downdraft and pushed it southeastward over the Four Peaks. Not sure I’ve seen anything like that…Tim Marshall called it a “hail drift”, which sounds about right 🙂 I got the entire genesis of it on time-lapse too, so that will mostly undoubtedly make the final edit of Monsoon III, whenever that comes out!

Killer chase yesterday, ending on Interstate 8 with a fantastic lightning show. Today I switch gears to shoot an intimate wedding in the Red Rocks of Sedona!