Posts

A March supercell in Arizona

Last week I was out chasing storms and saw a bonanza of shelf clouds south of Phoenix. Later in the afternoon, I went south past Picacho Peak and watched two large cells move closer and closer together until suddenly they merged into a large thunderstorm, with a hail core and structure. It look completely like a supercell and on this time-lapse, you can see the back end of it rotating for a little bit. Early on in both clips you can also see the bluish hail core dump on the right side of the base!

I have a few other clips of the shelf clouds, but really wanted to show this guy. Awesome to see this kind of storm in Arizona…and especially in March! Great start to the year already.

Below is just a still image from this storm. So beautiful!

A March Supercell in Arizona

Crossing 95

Crossing
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark iii, canon 16-35mm f/2.8 l, 16mm, iso 100, f/8, 1/60th // buy print)

Nothing like a good chase day during March in Arizona. Not only that, but playing the models and having them prove true when you drive all the way to western Arizona…icing on the cake.

I started off early yesterday, chasing a few cells through Phoenix past Fountain Hills, but I knew all along I would head west on the 10 and see what happened mid-afternoon. I time-lapsed some light convection along the interstate as I watched the cold core slowly progress across southeast California. As it grew closer to Arizona, I landed in Quartzsite, grabbed a bit and blasted south on Highway 95.

A big line of storms was nearing the highway, so I sat there and time-lapsed it rolling by. Lighting was going off…thunder…it was beautiful, especially in March!

Here’s a raggedy shelf cloud with the rain behind it moving towards the Kofa Mountain range. Such a fun day!

A winter storm

Winter Storm
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 17-40 f/4 l, 17mm, iso 200, f/8, 1/1000th // buy print)

While watching this storm roll across eastern Arizona, we dubbed it a “snoboob” because it had all the appearances of a dust storm but instead it was pure white. Even the time-lapse of this makes it look like a haboob. Whatever it was…shelf cloud, gust front…it was gorgeous to watch, especially as it eventually overtook us and enveloped our area in fog and hail.

Was so amazing to be there to witness this…on a road trip, stopping to take photos of some other things, only to watch this storm sorta come out of nowhere. That’s the beauty of God and nature…when you just “get out there”, you never know what you’re going to see.

A shelf cloud photo/timelapse over Fountain Hills

Shelf Cloud over Fountain Hills
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark iii, canon 17-40mm f/4 l, 17mm, f/8, iso 200, 1/200th // buy print)

When I chase in the central plains every spring, I do so with the intent of hopefully capturing a tornado someday, but mainly to get beautiful cloud structures that we don’t see much of out here in Arizona.

And then yesterday happened. I had been out shooting snow on the Superstition Mountains in the early afternoon when my buddy Jeff started texting me about the lightning and hail raining down all over Scottsdale. In parts of that city it hailed so badly it was a crazy whiteout on freeways and even the Diamondbacks couldn’t practice this morning as their field is a sheet of ice.

I started to head back towards the cell intending to cut it off at Gilbert and the Beeline. I had a smaller storm to drive though first, but when I emerged on the other side I saw some serious dark clouds with great looking cloud bases and structures. I rush to this spot that I’ve been too before knowing it would be perfect and started timelapsing.

And while the cloud were gorgeous before, suddenly this crisp looking shelf cloud emerged and made my day. It was absolutely beautiful. My only wish is that I had been somewhere a bit nicer, but there was no time to drive anywhere else. But I didn’t care really. I was just so happy to stumble upon this thing. It even had that bluish-green tiny from all the hail falling. Amazing.

A timelapse of this storm is below…watch it full-screen so that you can have a dark background because of how dark the scene itself is.

(btw, the video quality via Vimeo seems suspect today, not sure what’s up. Usually a bit more crisp than it is.)

The snow-capped Superstition Mountains

White-capped Superstitions
(please click to view larger on black // canon 5d mark iii, canon 35mm f/1.4 l, f/8, iso 200, 1/320th // buy print)

What a day.

I have so many images I haven’t even looked at yet, but this was the first one I took early this afternoon. Never before have I seen the Superstition Mountains with snow that low to the desert floor. It was an amazing sight and one I wont soon forget.

This was taken at 12:47pm right after the early morning storms rolled through.

I discovered this spot a few years ago on my own, although it’s not really a secret apparently. The normally empty location had 20 cars parked on the shoulders of the road, mud everywhere, people walking, taking pictures and a police officer hanging out to make sure nothing happened.  Was definitely tough to take any kind of shot without people in it, so you get what you get!

More to come, including a pretty awesome shelf cloud I captured later in the day!

Snowy Saguaro

Snowy Saguaro
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark iii, canon 70-200 f/2.8 is l, 200mm , iso 100, f/2.8, 1/1250th // buy print)

Took a nice drive up the Beeline Highway today and ran into snow falling well before I thought we would. The level had dropped crazy low and it was amazing to see some of these Saguaro with snow on their needles all all around the desert floor.

I’ve been wanting a shot like this for awhile and I’m sure you’ve seen these dozens of times, but for me it was awesome to finally get some snow on a cactus like this. A wonderfully fun day driving around and playing in the snow with the family!

Overflow at Tempe Town Lake

Tempe Town Lake Overflow
(please click to view larger on black // canon 5d mark iii, canon 17-40 f/4 l, 17mm, iso 50, f/18, manual exp blend // buy print)

Anytime is rains in Phoenix must seem hilarious to the rest of the world. The local news show pictures of running water down gutters, rain drops in puddles and of course you have guys like me blabbing on Twitter about his rain gauge. The amount of rain we deal with is so tiny compared to a lot of other places in the country that everyone else much think we’re just silly.

But you gotta remember…this is the desert, we only average just over eight inches of rain per year in Phoenix. And this past Friday-Sunday my house has seen 1.39 inches in just a few days! That’s a lot for us.

And when is does that out here, things flood, washes run and cool stuff happens. Like in the photo above…the Tempe Town Lake Dam. If you aren’t local, you may not be able to see it right off the bat, but the dam is actually made of giant inflatable rubber tubes.  Each section is 240 feet long and over an inch in thickness. They are durable against UV rays, ripping, etc. and can be deflated/re-inflated in 15 minutes.

This dam is located on the Salt River right in the heart of Tempe, Arizona and creates a little recreational lake for us. But when we get tons of rain, sometimes water is released from the major dams further upstream in the mountains, or runoff from city drainage can cause the lake to start filling up.

This is a sight you don’t see too often. I actually am not sure if the dam itself was lowered at all or is this is just how much water is coming from upstream. Either way, it was a beautiful sight to see against the stormy skies we had last night.

A winter storm over Phoenix

(Please click on the photo to see it better // canon 5d mark ii, canon 17-40mm f/4 l, 17mm, f/8.0, iso800, 1/1000 sec // buy print)

From yesterday evening. Nothing but love for winter storms.

I haven’t had much time to myself lately…I captured this on the way home from an engagement shoot that got rained out. I appear to only take photos at this parking garage lately, but that’s mainly because it’s a block from my house and easy to access 🙂

Hoping to get out and photograph some snowy desert mountains later this month!

 

Some lightning on North Mountain

North Mountain Strike - Arizona Thunderstorms

(click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 35mm 1.4 l, f/11, iso 200, 25 sec // buy print)

Getting any kind of lightning from a winter storm here in Arizona is possible, but a lot harder to come by than the summer monsoons. Tuesday night ended up being a lucky one for me, as some nice looking winter-ish cells blew through town and put on a bit more of a lightning show than we’re used to.

This was taken on top of a 7-8 story parking garage looking north. Ironically, the lightning strike hits a mountain in the North Mountain Preserve, an area surrounded by the city. I didn’t even notice until I zoomed in while in Lightroom that the strike landed right on my side of that hill. Love shots where you see the location of the hit.

Hoping this is a good omen for some more lightning photography this winter, but we’ll see how that goes.