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!
A new image I never edited from September 5th, 2017…one of the most spectacular monsoon scenes I’ve personally experienced…the light was so intense from the setting sun, so magical…the color out of control, that I just stood there in awe. Toss in a rainbow, gorgeous desert cactus and shrubs and a strong downburst over Organ Pipe and it was almost too much haha.
Missing this stuff.
August 14th I was down in Tucson finishing up my second Monsoon Workshop of the summer, and after we broke camp around 11am, I hit Benson first and captured some daytime bolts near there, and then raced up to Phoenix for a nice line of storms moving down off the Mogollon Rim.
As the sun went down, the storms moved through town and I decided to skip all the buildings and blast to the west side to get in front of the outflow boundary. Sure enough, as I got here west of Buckeye, storms exploded over the White Tanks and put on quite a shot of bolts. Love this one, 30-second exposure with a bolt hitting on the east side and then one on the west side near Sun Valley Parkway.
Crazy enough, ended up back on I-8 east of Gila Bend around 1:30am still shooting. What a wild night. Miss it.
October 1st was my final chase of the monsoon this year and it was a wonderful way to bookend a spectacular season. This image was taken along the AZ/NM border late in the day. A low-topped supercell with a wall cloud spinning to the north as it slowly died out. This is basically the closing image from the year for me, although I still have lots to edit. After this storm faded, I turned and headed for home and that was all she wrote.
Didn’t even know the time-lapse caught a lightning bolt until weeks later, which was a pleasant surprise!
A favorite image of mine from this past summer that I’ve been saving for whatever reasons, but figured I’d post it finally. Sometimes you like an image so much you are afraid to post it thinking others wont feel the same…silly, but it’s real.
Captured this about 3 miles from the Mexico board in the Coronado National Forest west of Nogales, while on a workshop with Paula and Karen. It was quite the show and shocking to us that this storm that seems to be dropping rain on the other side of the mountains, was putting down lightning strikes on OUR side. That hill got hit at least two other times and it was quite amazing to see from up so high.
This area seems so non-Arizona, it was almost like we WERE in another country for a little bit. Green mountains that definitely have more of a central America look to them. Such a gorgeous part of the state.
Not gonna lie…I enjoy getting close to lightning. Yeah, I’ll hide in the truck when my cameras are shooting…but I just really enjoy the close bolts and all the detail in them.
Yesterday was fun in the afternoon down southeast of Tucson…got some nice daytime bolts, enjoyed some flash flooding near Corona de Tucson…but after that, with storms in all directions except for where I was in Tucson…I couldn’t decide. West…east…north closer to home. Ugh. Went north, it sucks, went back to Tucson…pulled over, took a shot, then it was insane rain everywhere and I was done.
But storms popped over Phoenix while I was down there and so I was hoping to get lucky on the way home. Lightning was hitting Maricopa and near Sacaton north of me, so I setup on 187 and was hoping to get a bolt striking nearby up I-10 (which is where the car light trails are in the photo). But I setup the 50mm first and looked away as my buddy Chris Frailey pulled up, then looked back and suddenly a massive CG hit what felt like right in front of me. I stumbled as I raced to the car to get the wide angle, and two more bolts slammed down in the meantime. They were landing just about 1-2 miles away.
I got the 11-24mm ready, set to 15mm, calmly focused, f/8, iso 100, set it up, hit the shutter and BOOM this happened and then that was it haha.
25 second exposure, it all hit at once (other than the distance left one) and it was magnificent. Been waiting for a monster bolt like this for awhile now.
I never end up in Tempe for these things, but the way Thursday’s haboob progressed more north/northeast, and how behind we were, I skipped downtown Phoenix and went to this spot where I’ve shot a ton of times for other things…in fact, some of my very first images I took about eight years ago down here.
It’s a quick spot to get to, with an iconic view of downtown Tempe with the Mill Avenue bridges. The time-lapse is pretty sweet, I got two from here, wish I could have shot two more as looking east was pretty gnarly as well.
Oh and a Southwest Airlines plane is in there trying to outrace it
Yesterday didn’t seem like anything too exciting. Started south of town early afternoon, dust storm was weak, came home, picked up the kids and we decided to play the storms out west by Tonopah because I had a feeling that the action would end up propagating out there. Things got more intense with strong downbursts near the Salome Highway/I-10 intersection as an outflow boundary progressed northward.
The storms started forming over me as I raced towards the town of Aguila, dodging donkeys along the way while marveling at the sunset light that was beginning to shine on everything. As I started making it on the north side of the storms, my cell data returned and I realized the storms I had raced under were intense. I was looking up at the cloud above me and suddenly saw shelfy structure…and when I pulled over, it looks like a supercell for a moment. I couldn’t believe my eyes.
But the most insane thing to me was the green. I’ve never seen green like this in Arizona ever. It was so intense. I was standing there in disbelief that a seemingly average day would suddenly go supernova to have this huge storm with a green hail core. And to make it even more incredible, as it moved towards me, the sunset light somehow exploded and I was just in completer and utter awe.
This image is a tough one for me…I edited it just like I do all the others. Layers of contrast, a teeny bit of vibrance added…but the colors were so whack, I think people will be asking (and have been on Twitter already) if it’s legit. It looked like this to me standing there. Yeah, I edit stuff to look good, but I really tried not to make it look different than it did. I love it
On May 23rd, after time-lapsing the supercell south of Arthur as it neared highway 61, we raced north to get back ahead. But after five miles or so, the rain stopped momentarily and I looked back to see something in my rear-viewer mirror that made me slam on the brakes.
We jumped out of the truck to one of the most amazing sights I’ve ever seen storm chasing in my career. Only way I can describe this is a supercell with a hail core microburst that seems to happen in the span of five minutes or less. It was crashing so fast and the rain was rapidly approaching from the west, that I had no ability to really time-lapse it.
But it didn’t matter…we stood there in utter amazement…made me once again realize how much I love doing this and why.
A stunner of a sunset on August 23rd last year out along Vekol Road. I was flying down there, exited the freeway and of course my buddy John Sirlin beat me there by five minutes. Such an incredible sight…the colors were intense and the bolts were everywhere. This was my favorite one from this spot…we left west after it got dark and shot more lightning near Gila Bend and then up in Sun City West even later in the night. One of the top days chasing last summer!