A Nebraska supercell after dark

Nebraska supercell after dark

(Click to enjoy the storm a little bigger, almost like you were there. Okay, not really)

Whew. It’s around 9am right now and I just landed in Phoenix a bit after 7am after flying out from Oklahoma City this morning. A long trip, I added around 2200 miles to the lovely Hyundai Santa Fe I rented and slept in the car two of the three nights for a total of five hours. I did actually rent a hotel on Tuesday night and it was some of the best sleep I’ve had in awhile.

The bottom line from the trip was that I didn’t really see what I wanted to see. I was hoping for beautiful, isolated supercells with gorgeous cloud structure. Ehhh…not this time. That’s okay though…I had a blast, got to spend a day with an awesome stormchasing photographer named Shane Kirk that I’d never met in person before and I saw so many beautiful places I’d never seen before.

I have a ton of stories, and a video I’ll be putting together of my few adventures…but right now I’ll talk quickly about the photo above.

The photo above was taken in the NW corner of Nebraska on Monday night. The beautiful storm clouds you see in this shot had just passed over this road from the left side. This was a fairly intense supercell that was tornado warned and had a vortex signature on it. The fun part was I had come down this road doing about 95mph so I could not be slaughtered by the thing. Basically it was akin to walking really slow across some railroad tracks as a massive locomotive comes barreling down at you. The train barely misses you, but you get slammed with all the wind anyways.

As I was coming down the road at one point, I thought I saw stuff blowing across the road up ahead and figured it was a funnel and I was screwed. But it was just some nasty RFD (rear flank downdraft) that rocked my car all over the place.

When I finally got to a safe spot, I turned around and aimed my camera at this cell. It was just gorgeous. The photo can’t do it justice. The thing was flashing non-stop and it was something to behold.

I have a few more lightning shots I may post down the road, but this was one of my favs. The first good shot on a crazy stormchasing trip.

(exif: canon eos 5d mark ii, tamron 17-35mm 2.8, 17mm, f/5.6, iso 200, 8 sec)

26 replies
  1. Scott Wood
    Scott Wood says:

    Gorgeous image. I am sorry that the trip didn’t quite work out as you had wanted, but it sounds like you still had a great time. I am a bit jealous.

  2. A.Barlow
    A.Barlow says:

    Regardless man this shot is awesome!!! Lightning too? You know how hard it is to capture that? Very dramatic shot, thanks for sharing!

  3. Chris DeAngelis
    Chris DeAngelis says:

    Sick Mike… just a great shot! Love the lightening illuminating the top of the frame… And then the light trails are a great effect! Nice job man and welcome home!

  4. chrisdmrf
    chrisdmrf says:

    Crazy shot. I’m completely in awe of anyone who has the balls to chase a storm like this and still be composed to take such an excellent shot

  5. Kristi Hines
    Kristi Hines says:

    Wow, wow, and wow! Light trails, monster clouds AND lightning in one shot? As they say in the tennis match when someone just hits that shot that no one can get back – too good, too good!

  6. Jan Winther
    Jan Winther says:

    Amazing shot, Mike. I can almost feel the power of the storm.
    It is really cool how the lightning lights the top of the clouds while the bottom parts are black. Very cool…
    I look forward to see more from your trip.

  7. Eje G
    Eje G says:

    Mike that is a awesome shoot. Love the dramatic effects, light trail, lightning and ominous looking clouds. WOW =)

  8. Mark Blundell
    Mark Blundell says:

    Great post – sounds like quite a rush dodging the storms. with only the road to travel down its not as if you can go left or right, just forwards and back – great image!

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