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Under the Spinning Monster

Under the Spinning Monster
Under the Spinning Monster

Under the Spinning Monster

Boy this is a big one. This is as they say, just the tip of this weather iceberg. Just as dangerous here with 90 percent of it out of view hidden behind a veil of it’s own doing. It’s an odd perspective, the horizon only looks tilted as your looking at a climbing ridge from left to right. The storm itself is horizontal. And did I mention BIG. 👀

The serious weather looks to be around 30 miles off. Approximately the storm is 80 miles across. I’d LOVE to have cell service up here to get live radar but that hasn’t happened yet. We are pretty remote.. It’s really handy be be able to look through these walls of clouds to see what they are doing. Not having in truck radar images is why I got caught off guard by that damaging hail storm hitting us hard a few weeks ago. I’m working these storms based on what I see. I came in from the ranch land expecting a hail shaft to be coming in but didn’t know 3 inch hail was incoming in it or that it would last for 1/2 an hour. Stalled storm…

Being Anywhere in front of these rotating masses is not a good place to be. Under the wall cloud all sorts of bad things can happen. To the rear of the storm the hail will get progressively bigger. Down draft straight winds just add to the pleasure of watching 3 inch hail bash most things to smithereens. We had 6 digit damage here on ranch in July from one of these.

With the energy of a small Atom Bomb, powered by solar energy. If you by happenstance to be directly under the business end of a stalled version of this, your going to have a big rain. We had 4 inches in 45 minutes. Sheet wash off the hill behind my house was ankle deep. I changed my landscaping due to that storm to redirect that potential wash hazard.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands.

Title: Under the Spinning Monster

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Updrafts and DownDrafts Mesocyclone

Updrafts and DownDrafts Mesocyclone
Updrafts and DownDrafts Mesocyclone

Updrafts and DownDrafts Mesocyclone

In this twilight dusk capture, you can see both the updraft inverted funnel on the right feed warm air into the MASSIVE Mesocylone to my east. It spans the Montana/Wyoming border in this shot straight east. The Cold air coming down over the top left is streaking down to the front of the storm where all the action is. The rain is first as the top of the storm leans forward and the rain falls with the cold downdraft in front. As you go further and further into the storm, the strength of the updraft increases. Cold…. Thusly the hail falling gets bigger and bigger toward the rear of the storm just in front of the updraft region.

I re-emphasize… I’ve never seen such a good example of this before and I do this a bit. Far right frame you can see the inverted vortex of the up draft coiling into the storm. I watched it roil and rotate slowly snaking up into the storm. This sucks warm air up and the streaks are cold air coming back down. This is the second image I’ve posted from this timeline.

I’ve got a few other captures from this storm still working their way into my work flow. They will appear every few weeks I suspect. I’ve never seen this so well defined. So from the north west side of a growing to mature Mesocyclone, you will have the most interesting photos if the lighting is right. I will ALWAYS work thunderstorms in the evening or morning because of the lighting. We got 1/10th of an inch last night with the lightning storm. Kept everything from burning I think.

I heard lightning at 10PM last night and was going to go up hill until it started raining. Life in the Local Volunteer fire watch… (It’s called survival in these conditions. ).

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Updrafts and DownDrafts Mesocyclone

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Under The Spinning Mesocyclone

Under The Spinning Mesocyclone
Under The Spinning Mesocyclone

Under The Spinning Mesocyclone

It’s dark I know. It WAS dark at the time. This was a MASSIVE spinning Mesocyclone over our heads with the curved apron off of the tower in the turning around the corner. I would estimate this was over three states of Montana/ South Dakota and Wyoming. South Dakota is 90 miles to the left of frame. The business end of this was to the left of the frame about 1/2 way to South Dakota. Long Story Short, this was a big one… ⛈

This part of the storm was collapsing and loosing some of the input into the system. These big systems rotate broadly around like a small hurricane. They have some really serious consequences at times if your at the wrong place of the storm. This unique view from under this monster was a matter of luck or unluck depending on where you are. Residents in the high plains roll the dice each time one of these fellows moves overhead. We just had a serious hail storm damaging many outside surfaces on the ranch.

Hail, Dry Lightning, tornados, straightline winds are all dangers from these. We had 4 inches of rain in less than an hour about a decade ago. It was called a 500 year rain. I personally suspect they are more common than that but there are no rain gages over most of this country lol. Hard to measure a storm that sits still for an hour dumping rain over one spot when the spot is only a few miles across. This country is thinly populated with weather stations that report to the Natl’ Weather service. If you google DW-1087… pick the Bliss Ranch reference and you will see weather conditions here on the ranch.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Under The Spinning Mesocyclone

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Under the Spinning Top

Midnight Mesocyclone Lightning Symphony
Midnight Mesocyclone Lightning Symphony

Under the Spinning Top

After a long day of fire fighting, I was done with thanking the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) Fire team that stayed out sleeping under the “Stars” outside their fire fighting rig. For this fire, most neighbors, surrounding ranchers and local fire departments had departed before dark. The BLM crew “sat” on the fire over night. They left the next morning for another fire and another set of Meal’s Ready to Eat on the menu. Thank you fire crews and first responders everywhere. You have to love lightning hitting the ground in a tender dry environment full of grass.

That evening on the way home, the lightning show continues. The big round wall cloud that bolt penetrates blinded me at around 20 miles distant. Because this is a time exposure, you have a whole series of bolts recorded in this 30 second time line. One after another over a random few second intervals. I’d say there are 4 flashes in this particular capture. It takes another 30 seconds to process the image internally in the camera. This effectively puts the camera out of commission while it is processing the data. This is why I run 2 cameras alternating back and forth lol. It does keep you busy 📷

That Wall cloud is a really well formed one. I love climbing ridges and getting these views but that was a long day. I gave up after about an hour as the action faded. There are a few more good catches from this event. Long day done.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Under the Spinning Top

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Midnight Lightning Mesocyclone WallCloud

Mesocyclone Midnight WallCloud
Mesocyclone Midnight WallCloud

Midnight Lightning Mesocyclone WallCloud

This was taken the day we had our grass fire. I had been following up with the Bureau of Land Management Hot Spot Team. I was talking to the crew until about 11:15 when it became apparent that the Comet Neowise was going to be behind clouds. Time to go to sleep, a few miles back to the homestead all the while noticing HUGE multiple lightning flashes 20 miles to our south. The silhouette of the hill on the skyline is called “Bowman Hill”. Bowman is 15 miles south of me.

Now it takes my Sony mirrorless cameras (which work only OK) for the Comet Neowise) do a pretty good job on 30 second time exposures even in windy conditions taking photos of flashing lighting. I was definitely ridge topped here having to climb out of the bowl our homestead is in to see this. Those same sony cameras take ANOTHER 30 seconds to process that 30 second time exposure before I can take another exposure. Problematic so I work 2 cameras at the same time alternating 30 second clicks and I basically get full time coverage of all the bolts possible. But I can still only take 2 photos a minute at best. (that make sense??).

So anyway…. That is the center of a Mesocyclone all lit up by that flash. The wall cloud demarking the tip of the massive spinning top of this 60 miles across storm. The intensity of the storm at a late hour was remarkable with flash after flash discharging every few seconds over all. But many of the flashes were deep in the storm backlighting several surfaces. Stars…..

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Edited)

Title: Midnight Lightning Mesocyclone WallCloud

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Wyoming Montana Mesocyclone

Wyoming Montana Mesocyclone
Wyoming Montana Mesocyclone

Wyoming Montana Mesocyclone

This is a pretty good capture of a mid-sized mesocyclone that is sitting on the Montana / Wyoming border along Rt 59 north of Gillette. It’s a growing one that went on to cause some trouble up in Montana. Missed me by 40 miles. That is how far away that is. This gives you a pretty good idea how big that growing storm is. I’d say it’s 20 miles across with a 10 mile wide rain shaft under it. Bear in mind that these storms can grow to 100 miles across and very high heights. Forty thousand feet is not unheard of for a big storm. They do spawn tornados but we only see about 1 a year over a pretty big local area.

The biggest threat from them is hail. Large areas of grassland get flattened by big hail stones. Often the grass’s heads are knocked off leaving stubble. Property damage as I just experienced is significant if one of these goes over your ranch’s homestead. We are looking into replacing every surface of the buildings here on the ranch again. Last done in 2008 when we had some soft ball sized hail but not as much. This year we just had up to 3 inch but mostly golf ball for about 30 minutes with a 30 mph wind from the north. I keep finding all sorts of broken things.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Wyoming Montana Mesocyclone

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Red Double Rainbow

Red Double Rainbow
Red Double Rainbow

Red Double Rainbow

This is a Windmill Wednesday after all and I’ve posted several windmills today. I don’t get a lot of double red rainbows. The last of the timeline I think.

As this storm, a member of a train of storms moving up a squall line just to our east, the precipitation passed over me. Everything was wet. The Smells were tremendous with wet Sage dominating that sense. My visual neurons were firing messages to a receptive brain high on endorphins from the dramatic show unfolding before me. I’m very fortunate to be able to chase these storms. When they come by, I usually drop what I’m doing to run “up on the ridge”. Gaining elevation is the best way to see these big storms. Of course, when you go up, you go into the storm regardless. It’s a way of life going “into the storm”. You know, run to the gunfire..🤘

I’ve said before that red rainbows are rare. This one has a bit of yellow as it is a little earlier in the timeline from others you have seen published by me recently. The red colorcast is the result of no other colors making it past all the dust / moisture / ice / pollution in the air. Those particles collectively limit the rainbows choices on which colors to refract. The rain drops can’t bend Blue if Blue color isn’t there lol.

The second rainbow is as faint as it can be. They all are fainter than the main reflection and the colors (or lack there of) are reversed in order in the second bow. This was such a low light shot that it was hard to do it justice.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Red Double Rainbow

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Mesocyclone Wall Cloud Mania

Mesocyclone Wall Cloud Mania
Mesocyclone Wall Cloud Mania

Mesocyclone Wall Cloud Mania

The power and magnitude of these massive high prairie cyclones is incredible. Here it is visible over 1/2 it’s girth. The power wrapped up in the slowly growing spinning monster is equivalent to an atom bomb. That power is expended over hundreds of miles of travel. Fortunately this is usually across huge areas of low population density. When these go over big cities, there is a lot of damage.

About a 5 days ago as I type this, one of this (not this one) traveled right over our ranch and homestead. My wife has been spending her “greater” time at home gardening all spring. We just put up a 60 x 20 foot covered greenhouse this spring.

The damage these storms can do to you of course depends on the intensity and WHICH part of the storm hits you. Then how long it stays over you is a big deal. We has a LOT of golf ball hail plus SOME 3 inch (almost small baseball from our storm. That was bad enough. So it sat over us for 1/2 an hour ebbing and flowing. Some of the biggest stones were near the end too . By then I was walking around with 3 inches of heavy folded canvas for an umbrella. I was dealing with emergencies best I could. I have film of ice balls breaking through a fiberglass roof panel.

Several careers have trained me to deal with emergencies. It becomes more than a training scenario when it happened literally 360 degrees around you lolol. Hunker down, take some images and start damage assessment. Bring in the Pros…

I have some more images from the hail storm but it’s hard to get to all of them with my normal load PLUS starting the repair. They will work into my timeline’s workflow as they do.

Yes my 2020 Ford F150 raptor was damaged by this. It’s a tough truck and short of a lot of small dents on the upper surfaces mostly, only has a broken drivers mirror, a few cracked light fixtures and a hole punched through a cowling by the wipers. It’s kind of liberating in fact. I’m not so worried about scratching it somewhere lol …. 😜 Now I will see what it can do (laughing maniacally).

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Mesocyclone Wall Cloud Mania

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Mesocyclone Vortex Updraft

Mesocyclone Vortex Updraft
Mesocyclone Vortex Updraft

Mesocyclone Vortex Updraft

Please take this full screen as it is one of the most complex storm systems I’ve ever photographed. “Holy Crap” came out of my mouth watching this along with a few other interesting mixed metaphors.

Starting with the Lightning bolt, it actually started up higher in the next deck up where it dives through the cloud onward toward the ground. It is following the same rain shaft that is causing the slightly visible rainbow. This was at sunset, more clouds behind me hiding the sun from the ground I stand on but not the high clouds. It was fairly dark being under this monster.

I could clearly see air rushing up that tunnel/horn funnel (above the bolt) up and left into that billowing cloud mass above. A giant vacuum cleaner in effect. This seemed to be as a very large storm though the worst of it went east of us. I had good elevation during this lightning storm which of course is hazardous duty even in a vehicle. Being up on the ridges is why I have such a good view. I am not on the “highests” ridge around if you understand my logic. When I eventually get struck, probably the truck will protect me though vehicle wiring has been known to be damaged by electrical strikes.

As pictured, the weather looks nuts over there in and past Rockypoint Wyoming. The continued north into Montana the night of the 5th of June. HOWEVER, just the apron of this storm covered well over a 100 mile diameter circle so it effected a huge area. The apron of this monster was as big as I’ve seen. I watched this big spinning top of a storm on radar moving here all the way from Casper. It took about 8 hours to make the trip. If it had been 15 minutes later there would have been more sunset colors in this up higher in the clouds.

I have never seen weather like this in my life. Cloud shapes I’m very much into . I am a long term Pareidolia endowed artist/photographer with a Paleontological background. Looks like a Bellerophon snail crawling around to me. To say this was impressive watching this up on the ridge tops there would be an understatement. 📸

Title: Mesocyclone Vortex Updraft

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Lighting Under a Mesocyclone

Lighting Under a Mesocyclone
Lighting Under a Mesocyclone

Lighting Under a Mesocyclone

Up here on this high ridge (called rattlesnake ridge), you can see a 180 mile horizon to horizon. Going up on top of a ridge in a metal object (vehicle) seems somehow logical if you want to take a photo of lightning. I also think that sticking metal lenses out windows might be a good idea 🤔 ⛈. Of course a high ridge is a wonderful place to watch a lighting storm as long as you don’t mind being on the target list.

Sitting in a car covered by metal and not touching metal is a good thing in a lighting storm. I run my cameras on a lightning trigger and don’t have to touch them unless I move them. The one thing I actually flinch for, is the really really really loud crash when a bolt hits nearby. I’ve been VERY close to bolts before. It’s not my favorite part of that particular photographic game. I like automatic cameras in this case lolol. 📸

Photographic Musings:

There are two ways of doing this. If it is very dark, set your camera on a stabile tripod in a dry area. Take 25 second time exposures at ISO 200 and f11 to start with… You will have to tweek some to see what comes out. Or use an external “lightning trigger” to snap the camera as the bolt touches off. Set your camera near or at ISO 200 F11 and 1/4 second. Your setting s may vary but now too far out. The trick here to get a full frame (not a crop) image was to watch the storm and figure out where the bolts were consistently hitting. Then you just point the camera into that area and wait. Turn on some tunes…..

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Lighting Under a Mesocyclone

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A Storm is Down the Road

A Storm is Down the Road
A Storm is Down the Road

A Storm is Down the Road

We are by trick of geography quite isolated from the surrounding world. It’s 15 miles to the nearest asphalt highway and 70 miles to the nearest stop light. I’d like to think I’m a fairly astute observer of media as we are well connected to the web here……..

There are times up here I feel we are watching the storm in the distance from afar. The expectations, the eventual realization of the reality, finally the lost sense of normalcy are all heavy on my mind. But unlike the storm in the distance, we have many choices that may be made. To turn back usually isn’t an option in any particular timeline we are experiencing. Einstein has his rules after all and we must obey…..🤔

So onward inexorably toward the storm we move with no other option but to make it through. The path can be treacherous, full of pitfalls with negative effects, change, and and a loss of control perceived or otherwise. Adversity brings opportunity now and then. Like walking barefoot down this road.. Does it feel like we are in a river only able to swim to one side or the other? Maybe, but we are still ALL in the same river regardless. 👀

I’ve just had a couple of days of writers block where I didn’t want to write these narratives/pages. I finish images those days. Then this image came by my desktop and kicked me back into retrospective and forward thinking thought at the same time. This image is so metaphorical to the world situation we find ourselves in. Each of us traveling within our own sphere of influence experiencing our own storm conditions. Watching the various issues arisen in our travels appear, only to drop by the wayside mostly occurs in retrospect. The information technology age changing the way we think and act by the second. Changing our expectations. Quickens the pace they do. Driving a herd to a degree. Some of these issues may not drop along the way…. Don’t give up so freely what others have given all for is my advise.

The roads may all be different, the storms that effect us will move on to another with time. Properly considering your journey is paramount in it’s ultimate success.

Be Safe All and god bless

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: A Storm is Down the Road

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Belt of Venus across Mesocyclone

Belt of Venus across Mesocyclone
Belt of Venus across Mesocyclone

Belt of Venus across Mesocyclone

The sunset main show over my shoulder is usually yellow (ish) orange or red. This sunset backshow spread across a huge Mesocyclone storm is Pink. This pink band is called the “Belt of Venus” which is often on going behind you watching a sunset. More so up here in the high ridges of the Montana / Wyoming borderlands. It you don’t turn around now and then, you miss this show. This one was fairly hard to miss though lol. These storms can be 100 miles across. I’d estimate this one is about 100 miles distant from my camera. You can see a LONG ways from the tops of the ridges around this ranch.

Your actually seeing the pink band (red light) surviving the long trip through the earth’s curved atmospherics lens. The storm colorized by that most tortured light shows the gradients well. The Blue Line / Shadow UNDER the Pink is the Shadow of the earths horizon. As the sun sets in this time line, that blue band grows upward covering the storm as the sun drops further below the opposite horizon behind me. The top of the storm is still white as the light that high still has it’s blue components unfettered by the atmosphere. The storm is an ultimate projector screen for the light shone on it from our star. Color banding courtesy of mother nature. 👀🤘📷

Several image from this particular evening made it through the “sieve” I use to determine which photo to work on. They will work their way into my portfolio with time. I’m about 8 days from taking a photo to publishing the page with the narrative in my current work flow. During this spring I’ve been finishing 4 photos a day. I finished 6 a day most of the winter. I don’t think I can do that to my current standards this winter. We will see…

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Belt of Venus across Mesocyclone

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Mesocyclone Sinuous Shelf Cloud

Mesocyclone Sinuous Shelf Cloud
Mesocyclone Sinuous Shelf Cloud

Mesocyclone Sinuous Shelf Cloud

I was watching this monster come in. It was coming right at us. Everybody on ranch had their car under that big white roof a mile distant from my camera. That roof is the size of a regulation foot ball field in it’s entirety. Built in 1964, it was the largest building in Campbell County Wyoming. It’s a pretty tough heavy metal framed building. That roof replaced in 2008. After a hail storm threw baseball sized ice chunks at us. That along with all the other roof tin on the ranch. Definition of “Big pile” of dented metal left over after that repair. I’m still using it for various projects.

I seriously respect hail in this country having seen it crash through car windows many times. I also respect the down drafts from big storms that have shelf clouds stretching 130+ degrees across the horizon. Taken with the widest lens in my tool kit. It’s not a panorama but a 10mm lens. Looking south west (right frame) and east left frame. I couldn’t fit the whole thing in with the gear I had. I don’t have a lens wider than 10mm for full frame Sony cameras. No one makes one.

I thought this storm might produce the golf ball sized hail it was known for from radio warnings. That missed us as it passed fortunately. Rapidly moving, it produced .3 tenths of an inch of sideways rain and 60+ mph winds but from where I stand, they were way higher say near 80. I had a calf shed cartwheel over a fence, a window blew in, two empty 500 gasoline tanks/ stands blew over. Found some things moved “quite a ways” here and there by the blow. I made it into that big shed before it hit but that is where I weathered the storm too lol.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Mesocyclone Sinuous Shelf Cloud

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Under the Mesocyclone Mammatus

Under the Mesocyclone Mammatus
Under the Mesocyclone Mammatus

Under the Mesocyclone Mammatus

Driving under rapidly growing spring Mesocyclones is always an interesting time. This magnificent display of Mammatus billows coming out of the flow bands in this huge storm transcends normalcy. Though admittedly this still growing sporty “little” mesocyclone is a small one based on local standards of 100 miles across for big ones. It’ve seen them spanning the 3 states of Wyoming / Montana / South Dakota from my high ridges. It’s right at 90 miles to South Dakota east of my door step.

Monsters each and every one of these storms. They do spawn tornadic activity. I’ve only photographed one funnel up in this country over 20 years. They do occur in the county I live in. Straight line winds are aggressive at times. The average counties up here are bigger than a couple of US states. We are on the high plains weather wise… We only get one or two tornados a year within 150 miles of here as a general observation. You don’t want to be right under a mesocyclone that isn’t moving very fast because your gonna get wet there…

Big Spinning Mesocyclones are absolutely amazing storms to observe on the sunlit side. I’ve been known to follow but storm chasing is not my tendency. I’m usually running from them more than driving toward them.😜 I deeply respect hail in this country very much. We had base ball sized (3) inch hail hit the homestead in 2008. That left a few marks… Had to replace 44000 square feet of metal roof on the combined buildings here on ranch. I’m still using pieces of that old roofing for misc. projects. Works great for raised bed gardens.

This is a VERY wide image of 130 degrees or so with the top of the frame being straight up overhead. Mitten Butte in the distance center is the 300 foot tall monadnock for scale.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Under the Mesocyclone Mammatus

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Mammatus Cloud Under Lit

Mammatus Cloud Under Lit
Mammatus Cloud Under Lit

Mammatus Cloud Under Lit

Taken after sunset, the LOW angle long wavelength sunlight is still reaching the curved boundary under that reflective bumpy “projector screen”. The landscape is in total shadow from a storm low on the horizon over my shoulder at sunset. This storm is around 100 mile across and called a “Mesocylone”. I’m parked under the huge trailing apron of it. While not terribly common, Mammatus clouds are often very dramatic particularly with just the right light…📷 An affiliation with storms that produce extreme weather has been noted over the years. Hail isn’t usually far away with these olympic athletes of cloud types.

This one easily spans 3 states in my part Wyoming/Montana with South Dakota about 80 miles east. We are not sure exactly what is going on in this kind of cloud morphology. I will tell you that cloud boundaries form where two different air masses meet. Like oil floating in water, the density interface gets all visually 3D on us. Localized micro currents of flow scours into the air mass below like ripples in water. I think the the boys at “Skunk Works” would call it turbulence. Most planes divert around these atom bomb energy storms for good reason. You don’t want to fly through one for sure.

The water and air interface is one where two states of matter mix. The relative density differing the two substances create that obvious boundary. Gravity is doing the sorting. Cloud/clear air boundaries are not that different. Ripples and moving air channels / flow channels both vertical and horizontal within these Mesocyclones are chaotically complex apparently lolol.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana).

Title: Mammatus Cloud Under Lit

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Mesocyclone Monster Moving Through

Mesocyclone Monster Moving Through
Mesocyclone Monster Moving Through

Mesocyclone Monster Moving Through

These storms are HUGE and are the source of most of the “bad weather ” we experience during green and brown season. Think of them as big spinning tops with the energy of an atom bomb inside. They take their own time over where ever they travel. Your going to get some big rain if your under one of these for very long.

They make ultimate IMAX™ wide theatre screen for the filtered sunlight reflecting off back to my camera). The Sun being a big projector over my shoulder with this being the backshow at sunset. 📸

Having passed right over us last summer (2019). This Mesocyclone storm cloud must have been 100 miles across.

The colors are a result our star projecting a smooth color gradient filtered through the atmosphere. Colors ranging from red (bottom) to yellow (top). A slit window color cast the top of the cloud with the bottom in the shadow of another storm. Reddish light reflections are from the longest traveled surviving light rays. Those red rays travel through the most atmosphere. Projected on the cloud. Then a quick 75 miles bounce back to my camera. (Orange is a mix of red+yellow) The higher you go, the more yellow the light that makes it through then finally to the white wisps in the blue at the top of the cloud.

This smooth gradient from bottom to top is the classic gamut of colors from virtually every sunset. As here you just normally can’t see all of it lolol. Red was hidden by the shadows. It was really quite dark where I was as the lighting was off to my side looking a little to the north at sunset.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Mesocyclone Monster Moving Through

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Hail and the Mid-day Rainbow

Hail and the Mid-day Rainbow
Hail and the Mid-day Rainbow

Hail and the Mid-day Rainbow

Hail shafts coming out of the back of a small Mesocyclone passing JUST to our north. We got a little water from it but not nearly enough. You can clearly see the hail standing on the ground in the distance plus it is actively falling lit up from the sun appearing over shoulders. All rainbows are on the opposite side of the sky as the sun. The Higher the sun, the Lower the rainbow will be to the ground. Sunset Rainbows are the tallest on land with rainbows from an airplanes point of view are complete circles.

I worked this for lighting but alas it didn’t happen where it was detectable to the triggers that set my camera off. IT was too faint for it to detect in the sun I suspect.

I took this off the drivers window of “Clever Girl” (2020 Ford F-150 Raptor) for 1500 miles so far. Got her Dec 31, 1919. All but 400 miles are from driving on this ranch mostly covering two track trails 5 to 10 miles at a time. This is up on a saddle of the first ridge east of my Homestead (Ridge 1). Most rigs never see off road. Mine seldom sees the road 😜🤘..

This is a very wide angle image well over 90 degrees wide. Southwest to North east right edge of frame to left. The hail is on hills 8 miles distant (Ridge 5). Working parallel Ridges is a good thing 👀📷

You can see we are greening up nicely with this being 10 days old by the time you see it posted here.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Hail and the Mid-day Rainbow

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Detour Big Mesocyclone Ahead

Detour Big Mesocyclone Ahead
Detour Big Mesocyclone Ahead

Detour Big Mesocyclone Ahead

First note the jet contrail against the left side of this frame. It clearly curves around the HUGE Mesocyclone to the right of frame that was terrorizing Sundance and Newcastle Wyoming at the time. I was driving to Gillette through the Thunderbasin National Grasslands driving around it too . Smart Pilot there lolol. The road I’m on is about a 20 mile gravel trip to get to the 2 lane concrete highway traveling that direction. I usually run into something very Wyoming down there and this is no exception.

To see a storm that large mid day is not good news for those east of there under it’s influence. They have a presence you have to be near to understand but lets just say they intrude on your personal space from a long way’s away. There are just plain intense downpours under these storms sometimes. Depending on how fast they are moving makes you lucky or flooded locally lol. These only rain on a few percent of the ground area up here. Spotty! The ground under them becomes totally soaked if the storm doesn’t move.

These monsters are the source of most of the “bad weather” we experience in Wyotana during green and brown season. Think of them as big spinning tops with the energy of an atom bomb inside. That energy is released over time but it’s still a LOT of kenetic and potential energy up there. They take their own time over where ever they travel.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Detour Big Mesocyclone Ahead

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Twilight Under A Mesocyclone

Twilight Under A Mesocyclone
Twilight Under A Mesocyclone

Twilight Under A Mesocyclone

Both states in this VERY wide image. This is what I call a “fully involved” sky. This is the back edge of a HUGE Mesocyclone Spinning above. It is easily over a 100 mile diameter storm.

While Montana Claims the “Big Sky” moniker, Wyoming certainly shares it. Our ranch is in both states and MOST of my images have both states well represented in the capture. I’m one of the few photographers that can legitimately post an image in both states Facebook forums lolol.

This might be acalled a sunset” but in fact it is now in Civil Twilight. A full 4 minutes after the sun actually set. I consider this a night sky but others disagree.

Twilight is my favorite time of the day. I photographically work almost every morning but clear sky cloudless mornings. There are SOOOO many cloudless gradient twilight images in my portfolio. Certainly I don’t need many more.

Going out in the twilight before sunrise into the backcountry is alway interesting. I often run into still bedded deer, most of which don’t care that I’m driving by, stop, take a photo and move on… I get some of my best wildlife photography done coming back from working morning twilights. I’ve done this many hundreds of times. Over a career if you pay your dues, you get lucky with random encounters starting to add up. You need to have the right gear and ability to work in morning golden hour light. Twilight low light is a whole different group of settings lolol. The transition from twilight to sunlight or in reverse is rapid.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands. (Wyotana)

Title: Twilight Under A Mesocyclone

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Rainbow in the Storm

Rainbow in the Storm
Rainbow in the Storm

Rainbow in the Storm

Upcoming in the next few months…. (from late last summer 2019)

Can you smell the wet sage and the ozone yet? Hear the distant rumbles of the thunder? As this storm sitting over the whole northeast corner of the Wyoming and the southeast corner of Montana. This storm certainly spans the MT/WY border and probably is over in South Dakota as well. You can just see the edge of it to right frame. These big 40,000 foot high storms can be 100 miles across. Big spinning tops of a thunderstorm is a good way of thinking about MesoCyclones. They are the way we get most of our summer rain. Having moved over us the unfettered sun really popped in the refractions going on within the raindrops in the far distance. I’d estimate that rainbow is 1/2 mile out.

I see a lot of rainbows as I actually go to work after rain showers move through. It makes for a “Trip up on Ridge 1”. YGoing up the hill to see what is going on to the east. I see afternoon rainbows 10 to 1 over morning rainbows historically. Rainbows will move as you move. If I could have gained say 1000 feet in elevation magically I would have seen a full circle rainbow. A drone footage of a rainbow would show a big circle/halo of color. You see this with the 22 degree halos around the sun/moon. But rainbow alway present behind you when your facing he sun/moon. They are always down stream so to speak.

You might also notice if you look carefully….that the order of color ROYGBIV is reversed to VIBGYOR on the double component of this twin rainbow.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Rainbow in the Storm

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Spring Rain Showers Wyotana

Spring Rain Showers Wyotana
Spring Rain Showers Wyotana

Spring Rain Showers Wyotana

Complex cloud systems have been moving through the area this late brown season (early spring) capture from late April. The day was exciting with actual lightning (first of the year). I dug around and found the 2 lightning triggers I use and worked this storm. They were last used last August (ish) , one of them was on, still had battery… (stored in the dark). 👀

I “Think” that those are Anti-crepuscular rays cross cutting into rain/sleet/hail shafts falling from this sporty little storm. I find the back side of isolated afternoon storms are WAY more interesting than the front side. I seldom chase storms but I sure as heck did last night follow a rainbow right as dusk. It will take a week for those images to find their way forward into my workflow.. Love the face peering up and right above the main shaft.

So This weather is very summer like so I’m declaring officially that “Spring Came and Went” on a Friday this year. Last year it was on a Tuesday. Brown season ends pretty much now though we are still in danger of frost for another two weeks as this posts. These storms made it quite muddy, the grass will grow but I don’t get into the backcountry when it is muddy as much. This is not necessarily convenient to the working of light that appears randomly and not always when the two tracks roads are passable. I washed about 200 pounds of mud off my Ford Raptor Last night and that was from the main roads…..👅📸

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Spring Rain Showers Wyotana

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Shelf Cloud Mesocyclone Sunset

Shelf Cloud Mesocyclone Sunset
Shelf Cloud Mesocyclone Sunset

Shelf Cloud Mesocyclone Sunset

This low pointy feeder band was forming in front of me and flowing toward the larger storm system right.

This marvelous sunset is the result of a complex weather system moving through. Complex skies with multiple layers / levels are usually worth stalking at sunset / sunrise. There is just off frame right and above, a single huge rotating Mesocyclone storm. The air is rife with ozone. A mimic of a slight chorine smell as with any compound that will react with your sense of smell. The wet sage was ALMOST over powering the lightning induced tri-oxide. You might say the atmosphere was “Sporty” that evening.

Having passed right over us last summer at sunset (2019). This Mesocyclone storm cloud must have been 150 miles across. It provided me with a long feeder band into it’s wall cloud right at sunset. The yellow color low is atmospheric dust ice and moisture stopping all the colors with shorter wavelengths BUT red and yellow. The clouds high are white as that light didn’t travel through the atmospheric gauntlet at that angle. Still blue sky there.

These storms are HUGE, dominating the landscape. They are the source of most of the “bad weather ” we experience during green and brown season. Think of them as big spinning tops with the energy of an atom bomb inside. That energy is released over time but it’s still a LOT of kenetic and potential energy up there. They take their own time over where ever they travel. Your going to get some big rain if your under one of these for very long. The cloud canopy straight up is still white

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana).

Title: Shelf Cloud Mesocyclone Sunset

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Under the Mesocyclone

Under the Mesocyclone
Under the Mesocyclone

Under the Mesocyclone 2:1 diptych 2-20″x20″ images.

Im estimating this young developing Mesocyclone is 15 miles distant. The image is about 50 miles wide. Relatively small for a Rotating mesocyclone. It was growing at the time. Moving in towards me at that time. Being high on a ridge in a Jeep when one of these rolls over you can get exciting.

That’s a pretty big lightning bolt about 10 miles away from my location/ The left part of that bolt was miles long certainly. This is a little further out out from me than it appears as it is “zoomed in a bit with a telephoto. Telephotos crush perspective but cover a smaller part of the sky. You the trick is to point the camera at where the lighting flashed last time. Using a wide camera is easy but gives you smaller bolts. A telephoto properly pointed will get you up close and personal. I do use an automatic lightning trigger that will trip the shutter on the flash. I endorse no specific brand .

The sunset for that day is ongoing exactly behind the rain shaft on the right at this captures time. Thusly the bottom of the storm is pretty much backlit as well as your going to see through one. A Thunderstorm sun filter….🤔😜📸 I am such an opportunist of a photographer. I use what ever natural light filter that is present…👀

There are just plain intense downpours under these storms sometimes. Depending on how fast they are moving makes you lucky or flooded locally lol. These only rain on a few percent of the ground area up here. Spotty! The ground under them becomes totally soaked if the storm doesn’t move.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana).

Title: Under the Mesocyclone

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MesoCyclone with Moon at Night

MesoCyclone with Moon at Night
MesoCyclone with Moon at Night

MesoCyclone with Moon at Night

This MesoCyclone was Veiling the full Moon. Enough to catch the stars visible to my naked eye. Using a 20 second time exposure, some lightning flashed during the interval. Details in the clouds that are seldom to a camera pointing at the full moon. Most you see are fakes or composites. Time exposures over a second tend to overexpose the full moon badly. Even a moon that was unveiled. Limitation of the technology.

Straddling South Dakota, Wyoming and Montana, this rotating storm was around 100 miles across. Containing the energy of an atom bomb expended over it’s life.

The view I had of this storm was perfect enabling me to photographed it. I was up in the higher backcountry for almost 2 hours with 6 different camera lens combinations from before sunset to well into Astronomic twilight under the full moon. Being backcountry means any light on the terrain is ambient from the flash and the moon/stars. No other man made light sources in view from the highest mountain top around kind of backcountry.

Various colors are way saturated which is what time exposures do. I actually really dampened down the purples that were native in the camera’s software in this image. 20mm lens, cropped in a bit. I wouldn’t go over 20 seconds with a 20mm as longer would have blurred the starts. That time varies with the focal length of the lens so look it up on google lol.

This ranks as one of my personal favorite images of the year. There are a few others….🤔 Taken Mid Summer 2019. 2×3 aspect.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: MesoCyclone with Moon at Night

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Sunset Gradient Mesocyclone Apron

Sunset Gradient Mesocyclone Apron
Sunset Gradient Mesocyclone Apron

Sunset Gradient Mesocyclone Apron (The ultimate wide theatre screen for the filetered sunlight reflecting off back to my camera). The Sun being a big projector lolol.😜🤔📸

Having passed right over us last summer (2019). This Mesocyclone storm cloud must have been 150 miles across. It served as a projector screen right at sunset. These storms are HUGE and are the source of most of the “bad weather ” we experience during green and brown season. Think of them as big spinning tops with the energy of an atom bomb inside. They take their own time over where ever they travel. Your going to get some big rain if your under one of these for very long.

The colors are a result our star projecting a smooth color gradient filtered through the atmosphere. Colors ranging from red (bottom) to yellow (top). Big Clouds like this are Projections screens for the colors that make their way through the atmospheric filter. The Red Light reflections are from the longest traveled surviving light rays. Those red rays travel through the most atmosphere to be projected on the cloud. Then a quick 75 miles bounce back to my camera. The higher you go, the more yellow the light that makes it through then finally to the white at the top of the cloud only slightly yellowed light. This smooth gradient from bottom to top is the classic gamut of colors from virtually every sunset. You just normally can’t see all of it lolol.

It was really quite dark where I was as the lighting was off to my side looking a little to the north at sunset.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Sunset Gradient Mesocyclone Apron

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Windmill Riding the Storm Out

Windmill Riding the Storm Out
Windmill Riding the Storm Out

Windmill Riding the Storm Out

Windmill Junkies Unite: but don’t let your mothers know you look at stuff like this 🤘🤘.

This 100 year old AERMOTOR Windmill has been providing water to cattle in this remote part of our ranch. It’s several miles to the nearest power line from here. About a decade ago we ran a water pipeline about two miles from one of our wells to this site. We used the existing tanks of course. The windmill was working last time we used it. It needs a new drive rod connecting the motor to the pump head. Undoubtedly, the leathers replaced in the pump, a little grease….. It would run no question in my mind.

6 months out of season when I post this Jan 8th but remember today is Windmill Wednesday. I’m going to have windmills every post all day today. There will only be one or two in some forums and other places on the internet will have all 6… . This is entry number 1 for the morning at 6 AM (ish). I’m going to start doing SOME thematic days as they CAN occur (meaning I have 6 images of the same type like Windmills).

I do miss the big storms that roll by in the summer. I don’t miss so much the ones that roll over us lolol. Rain is rain though. I’d rather not have it as 5 inch softball sized hail though. I just got a new truck lololol. We actually had to have every roof on the ranch replaced in 2008. We do get some rough storms.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands. (Wyotana).

Title: Windmill Riding the Storm Out

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Shelf Cloud Lightning Bolt

Shelf Cloud Lightning Bolt
Shelf Cloud Lightning Bolt

Shelf Cloud Lightning Bolt

I know, it’s out of season in Wyoming, not so much down south at the moment though. Be careful down there. As the cold air moves over us, the arctic blast does BIG storms in LA, MS, AL, GA….. Be careful out there and prayers for those effected by the storms.

In this complex summer image, I set the camera up at the mirror to reflect the sky slit 90 degrees left frame….Flash….. Can you find the Deering Seeder? This was a HUGE mesocyclone that hadn’t even reached us yet. We were just under it’s leading edge here. That shelf cloud is an indication that it’s about to get sporty. The 80 mph winds this brought with it did some damage. The big hail missed us though. That big white roof is our big barn which is roughly the size of a regulation foot ball field under that roof. It’s an old roping area under there.

This storm donated quite a few lightning photos. I usually work storms like this up on the ridges definitely in a car. The car doesn’t make you immune to the strikes but it helps. Your not going to get killed by ground current if your not touching metal is the plan. Not that the bolt couldn’t hit the camera. I’ve been pretty close to some strikes before and it will wake you up. Looking forward to working it with the new vehicle with no moon roof. I ordered it WITHOUT a sunroof (a several thousand dollar options that will probably leak). More metal overhead is a good thing I’m thinking lolol.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderland (Wyotana)

Title: Shelf Cloud Lightning Bolt

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Lightning and the Seed Drill

Lightning and the Seed Drill
Lightning and the Seed Drill

The Lightning and the Seed Drill timeline started looking much further left than the camera points for this image. The head lights of my Jeep Grand Cherokee are what is highlighing the 1930’s IH Deering Seed Drill (seeder). That Antique has been sitting here for a LONG time and has seem more weather, sunsets, sunrises than any of us left alive today. An old soldier survivor of wind, rain, hail, and worst of all, cattle rubbing against it. It has BIG views in all directions. (Change up seasonally eh? )

Up here on this high ridge (called rattlesnake ridge), you can see a 180 mile horizon to horizon. Going up on top of a ridge in a metal object (jeep) next to another metal object (seeded) seems logical if you want to take a photo of lightning. I also think that sticking metal lenses out windows might be a good idea 🤔⛈.

Of course a high ridge is a wonderful place to watch a lighting storm as long as you don’t mind being on the target list. Sitting in a car covered by metal and not touching metal is a good thing in a lighting storm. I run my cameras on a lightning trigger and don’t have to touch them unless I move them. The one thing I’m actually afraid of is the really really really loud crash when a bolt hits your car or just nearby. I’ve been VERY close to bolts before. It’s not my favorite part of that photographic game. I like automatic cameras in this case lolol. 📸

Photographic musings:

I find that the Sony alpha 7 cameras I use tend to record lightning with a slight purple tint. This is very common in lighting captures in my experience. This is a 10 second time exposure . . Other settings were ISO 200, f20 and it was quite dark under that cloud with only a faint sunslit. I used f20 so as not to overexpose the headlights on the seeder.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title:Lightning and the Seed Drill

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Windmill Photobombing a Mesocyclone

Windmill Photobombing a Mesocyclone
Windmill Photobombing a Mesocyclone

Here a windmill known in my narratives as “Sneaky Pete” is caught photobombing my capture of this massive Mesocyclone about 100 miles out. It’s also probably 100 miles across and covering/pounding part of Montana/SouthDakota AND Wyoming at the same moment. Golf ball sized hail, torrential rains and 60mph winds were the result. I watched/photographed this storm for 2 hours well past sunset till the full moon came out in front of it. I have many photos still to finish from this event months later.

This was taken as the sunst’s backshow right at sunset where the orange/red light from the setting sun going through the atmosphere hits the core but the light hitting the top of the storm is still blue white as it goes through way less atmosphere.. Gradually the whole storm turns orange/pink/reddish depending on the atmospheric lens conditions of the timeline before the shadow of the horizon moved over the storm from the bottom up. 1/10th of a second exposure in this light.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

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Mesocyclone Veiling a Full Moon with a Bolt from the Storm

Mesocyclone Veiling a Full Moon with a Bolt from the Storm
Mesocyclone Veiling a Full Moon with a Bolt from the Storm

This Mesocycone was Veiling the full Moon enough to catch the stars visible to my naked eye but seldom to a camera pointing at the full moon. Most you see are fakes or composites. This 6 second time exposure would have been overexposed badly with a full moon that was unveiled. This is the real deal seeing stars with a full moon.

Straddling South Dakota, Wyoming and Montana, this storm was 100 miles across. I photographed it in the deep backcountry for almost 2 hours with 6 different camera lens combinations from before sunset to well into Astronomic twilight under the full moon. Being backcountry means any light on the terrain is ambient from the flash and the moon/stars.

THe colors are way saturated which is what time exposures do. I actually really dampened down the purples in this image.

This ranks as one of my personal favorite images of the year. There are a few others….🤔

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

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