After nine days of no storms, I struggled with motivation, but somehow still dragged myself out of bed last Thursday at 5am to get to the AZ/NM border in time for late morning development. It seemed like a lock for a supercell to form between 10-12 near San Simon and move east into New Mexico. Arrived early, took a cat nap, enjoyed a weaker storm waking me up with rain drops, but I knew the real show was the tail end one rapidly intensifying over the Chiricahua Mountains. Lightning showed up on radar finally and I knew I was in business. I sat back and watched it arrive in San Simon mostly a blob of rain, but then the bolts starting hitting around me and some structure began to show. I headed east on 10 to get out of the precip and avoid the widow maker bolts, but after a few miles I pulled over to a nice high view overlooking this valley. And that’s when this thing rapidly turned into the most incredibly structured supercell I’ve ever personally witnessed here in Arizona. The wall cloud, the vertical updraft, the incredible rain/hail falling to the right and then NUTSO towering lightning bolts landing everywhere. There is actually another faint one on the left. Thankful I pushed myself to chase this and feel lucky to have been on this guy for the 20 minutes it was awesome. The time-lapse is great, look for it in Monsoon 6!
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark iii, canon 50mm f/1.2, f/5.6, iso 400, 20 sec // buy print)
Nothing is better than snagging that first lightning strike of the monsoon season. I honestly didn’t think this would happen, as I sat on another story before this, and saw strikes on radar, but nothing actually hitting the ground.
And this storm was 50 miles to the east moving away from me, but I raced east anyways, put my camera on the roof of the Runner when I was finally in a spot to shoot. I had a tall fence in front of me, so I had to get the camera up high. Thus my aim was off and I had to crop this shot to get it to work right, but I love it! The ISO was a bit high because the lightning was mostly off in the distance, but I like it anyways.
This was a long ways off in the Chiricahua Mountains of southeastern Arizona. My first time shooting lightning over these hills…was pretty amazing.
A great start to the season, cannot wait to get back out there.