The cloud on the horizon is the top of tall Mesocyclone (a really big storm). The intervening Ridges BARELY illuminated by the veiled sunset ongoing behind me. The sun was throwing very long shadows effected by the cloud cover over my shoulder. There was a storm behind me too. This storm is at least 80 miles distant. Certainly it covered eastern Wyoming, South Dakota, and a sliver of Montana. It’s Twin to the left is off frame and standing over the Montana / South Dakota / North Dakota tristate area. There were several of these huge monsters rumbling across the prairie that night.
The centers of these large thunderstorm complexes are 2 to 9 miles in diameter. They are huge spinning tops rotating about those spinning complex with a top cap many tens of miles across. They are land hurricanes of sorts. A weather engine powered by solar heating of the land. Rising hot humid air hits higher colder air which causes it to condense. This starts a rotation as the energy builds through out the day. By they time they get this big, they are in the small nuclear bomb range of energy levels. These are potentially very dangerous indeed with the cast of dangers they possess. Lightning, Hail and Flash Flooding are the major threats. It pays to be on the west side of these storms as the danger has passed at that point. Prayers to those underneath the right real quarter of the storm.
When I see these big Monsters on the horizon, heading up to the ridge tops is my destination. I have fairly long views from there. From my house, I might see about 1/2 of this from behind the ridge I stand hon. This prairie Mesocyclone was slowly rotating about 30 miles to our north and east. A Mesocyclone is a Mature BIG thunderstorm. They are HUGE.
I’m in Wyoming for this looking into Montana. This storm was worrying folks along the South Dakota / Wyoming / Montana triple state line. If effected all three states as it moved to the south east during it’s lifetime. I see about 15 of these big storms a summer. I will work all of them with a box-o-cameras given the opportunities lol. They are wonderful ever changing photographic subject that move very slowly. (unless your under them lol).
I’ve always considered Mammatus clouds as evidence that the storm is being deprived. Without daylight heating, the storms cease growing. Thusly it is slowly collapsing. Not clearly defined is the exact causation of mammatus clouds. “When Moist air drops into dry air below.”… Essentially they are upside down clouds similar to a cloud top billowing. Similar to the growing tower of a thunderstorm before the “Anvil” forms from the top of the storm traveling faster than the bottom. The bottom has friction with the ground where as the top not so much.
If you stay under a large Mesocyclone long enough, your going to see some interesting things. This bolt was just ahead of a large rain shaft as the storm moved right to left. The dog leg in the precipitation shaft show a pretty huge change of direction. Winds can do very unusual things around these monster clouds. The light environment was basically pitch black post sunset but the flash bulb was adequate to the chore. I have to use a 25 second time exposure to do this kind of work. Wind is never an asset in that work. 🙂
The reason I like this is you can see the point of impact. It hit what I call “ridge 2” about 3 miles to my south of my position. I’m sure it hit a tree seeing the sparks. Fortunately it did rain which would put out any grass fires. I have seen trees burn for days internally after a strike. I have put out several of them. You could pour 1000 gallons of water on a burning tree and not put it out. It usually is nessary to tear it up to really put out an internally burning Pine tree. Most of the time the lighting runs down the outer bark blowing away chunks of the tree in the process. I see a LOT of lightning scars on the old growth timber along the ridge lines. Most trees survive the strikes. Some certainly don’t….
I photograph most storms that pass around and over our ranch. I almost never pursue them more than say 10 miles off home base. That still adds up to a lot of storms each year.
I’ve never been around a tornado on the ground before with a camera. I still haven’t lol. This was indeed rotating but disappeared before it got any lower. Rotation under a big Mesocyclone is not that unusual. I normally don’t see it so well formed. I’ve seen several in the air like this. Mid-July Weather that I’m just now getting to the images to finish. I have job security with 1000’s of images to work on with more coming in almost every day. (Shaking head side to side).
What I didn’t notice in the camera the woman’s face imagined on the tornadic cloud. It totally escaped my attention until I got the image onto my big screen at my workstation. POP… Pareidolia is a tendency that some possess to imagine anthropomorphic shapes in clouds or other random visual data. This obviously low light image is properly exposed for the conditions at the time. More light would have been helpful lol. Going to full screen with the image will help with seeing to what I refer. Kinda Scary when the clouds threaten and a face is attached to the threat looking back at the photographer…..
This storm hailed on me an hour prior to this click. I tend to follow behind these guys around sunset. Some of the scenery I see doing this is otherworldly. It was very dark on the ground as the silhouette shows. There was no way to properly expose the clouds still keeping the ground visible. Usually I can pull out the ground detail in the digital dark room. Not so much here. So I consider it a good use of negative space here lol.
This storm was quite a sporty little spitter on it’s way through the area. It was big and had a lot of various rain / hail shafts for me to run from lol. There were rumors on the weather there was golf ball hail on going somewhere under that. I was hit by marble sized hail. It seemed to follow me that night on the way in lol. I went 10 miles away from the homestead trying to get the photographic angle. The proper location is everything.
The Pink light is the “Belt of Venus” effect that is so common with a bunch of moisture in the atmosphere frozen or fluid. The pink light survived the longer trip through the low atmosphere. This light reflects back off the clouds to my photon capture boxes. There the photons are converted to electrons and stored for me to work on later. Have to love technology.
Location: near the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands (Wyotana)
I started working this storm because I couldn’t get out of it’s way. There were a few rain/hail shafts pursuing me across the flats so I went up on the ridges to get a better look at the storm. It’s not often I get to see running water in these ephemeral washes. (Good word to google). This storm just Dumped Water with marble sized hail for some time. I’m estimating 2 inches of precip fell with right at an inch of ice in places. Here it had melted somewhat since it was 60 degrees out up at the local top of the world for this shot.
The water that was accumulating down river would have been significant from this storm. I didn’t go down to the flats where dozens of these little washes conjoin into a much bigger force to be dealt with down river.
The Storm was breaking as sunset approached. Passing to our east leaving me with a window to the sky. A crepuscular display ensued for our enjoyment.
The chill in the air that night was only matched in it’s uniqueness only by the mist rising then flowing down valley. Neither something I’m used to this drought year. A river of dense fog rolling down the valley. That vision has already published on the internet a week ago. The saturated air hitting all the hail ice covering the ground made a wonderful fog generator. Both evaporation and sublimation (another google word) was occurring along with the flooding locally.
This is a dark image. Only because it was taken in a very subdued light environment lol. Only Devils Tower on the Horizon is illuminated. That through a window in the clouds. The Storms behind me were blocking the sun effectively. This storm towering above the Ancient Volcanos in the distance have dominated the environment for hours. Finally the Moon was looking over the shoulder of the storm back at me of course. It occasionally shows up for a cameo appearance in my photographic timeline. I’m happy to oblige it as it keeps it’s schedule and I admire clock work. Responsible Celestial Objects are worth having around your neighborhood.
The ground was light grey from a coating of marble sized hail. That was creating a foggy layer near the ground. Typically when you see the grey like that off in the distance, it is an artifact from the digital darkroom. This is real hail fog plus some of the white hail showing through in the distance.
Remember the Devils Tower is 1000 feet high above the surrounding plain. The perspective makes this Cloud look VERY large but I’m thinking it’s only about 1/2 way there. Lens perspective is a property I’m constantly using and studying. Close / Far are my stock and trade for perspectives. Having said that. I’m always interested when nature works it out for me lol.
Location: near the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands (Wyotana.
The First Quarter Moon has risen 1/2 an hour too early to be in the optimal position for me here. It’s still mostly a rule of thirds composition lol. This was taken in mid Civil Twilight. Roughly 15 minutes after scheduled sunset. There were additionally a host of storms behind me to my west. I was in a dark environment looking at a 30K foot high+ projector screen. That reflecting the “Belt of Venus” color gradient back to my photon capture boxes.
The Mammatus usually means a collapsing storm but they can be affiliated with serious weather. Being under this monster would have been less than desirable unless you get lucky to get just rain. It does happen. I might be hyper-sensitive to hail after watching chickens egg sized hard ice fall with all other sizes below for 1/2 an hour this July. These guys ruin insurance agents profit/loss ratios in the summer. They can certainly cause massive damage in their wake. That storm has as much energy as a small atomic weapon wound up in it’s rotation. There is a LOT of mass there too remember. I wonder how many gallons of water is suspended up there … humm.
A generic thunderstorm cloud contains enough water drops to fill up a 275 million gallon container. That’s around 2.3 billion pounds of water. Alternately = 1.1 million tons of water. Assuming a thunderstorm produced one inch of rain over one square mile. This would be 17.4 million gallons of water . Weighing 143 million pounds. Amounting to around 72,000 tons). Heavier than air all of it. Lots of energy to keep it all suspended up there eh?
Here the well risen moon had a window to my part of the world through a break in the storm system moving through. Those are REALLY big clouds at over 40 miles out. The rain under them is covering Devils’ Tower way under their base. I wish It was visible as it would give a much better scale for the size of these storms.
This was late in the day around mid-golden hour (about 7 pm in August). The talk is there will be snow in Wyoming this weekend. Hopefully we will have a wet fall which could moderate next year considerably by killing off grasshoppers. They don’t do well in wet. Prefer dry years it seems. I mean if your going to have a drought, you might as well have bugs eat all the grass that’s left lolol.
There was close to a 2 inch rain on this ridge with lots of water running in the local creeks. In the rain/hail mix was marble sized hail. I tried to get out of it’s way. The hail shaft seemed to follow me and went right over me. Trying really hard to be a distant observer of this stuff, it’s harder when there are a 1/2 dozen hail shafts moving through the area. Some places get rain, others get nothing. Usually the areas that gets wet. Getts really wet lolol.
Location, Near the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands (Wyotana)
This is the third image in this Huge Storms Time line that I’ve published. Several double bolt shots were taken of this storm. What really stands out on my 27 inch computer screen….. That loop of clouds on the far left side of the frame stands out big time to me. It is a perfect chain hook for this storm. I’d say the bottom of this huge slowly spinning stop is 15 miles across and the top was 40 or 50 miles across. Still small at this capture, 2 hours later it ran over the Devil’s Tower area. I have images of Hail Slathering the Tower from the hail coming off the back of this storm. The separate shafts off the right side of the storm consists of mostly hail surrounded by rain.
You want to avoid the back of these storms as getting under one will get you slathered in hail. Hail can be 5 inches or so. That would be a bad thing. In 2008 we had some soft ball hail cause 150 grand of damage on our place. This year 1/2 hour of chickens egg sized ice with a few bigger did over 1/4 million in damage. Next year we will be replacing 47000 thousand square feet of roofing. That is our ranch headquarters just this side of the north part of the storm by about 15 miles. It went past us and left us untouched but we got little rain. We need the rain but not the hail. Picky, picky, picky…..
This storm passed over me about 30 minutes before. Those are my truck’s tracks looking back from whence I came. High up the hill from my current vantage point well of the ridge peak. Big views on that side of the hill but a better perspective down the red dirt road up one of the better sledding hills in the winter you’ve ever seen. Maybe 20 cars a day drive this during the summer. Just a few oil well service trucks and ranchers travel this. Trips to town are 70 miles to Gillette Wyoming or 90 miles to Belle Fourch South Dakota. This is a pretty remote spot in Wyotana. It is only 10 miles to the nearest asphalt road here though. All down hill too, literally lol.
That was a deluge of a storm coming over where I was. I tried to avoid the storm but the course was unpredictable without cell signal with affiliated radar. I just need a doppler rig on the roof. Big Hail is NOTHING I want to run into. I’ve got enough damage on my truck from it. I try really hard to stay out of the weather but several storms went through the area and one was bound to run over me. It did. No damage and I got some really fine images from the event. I have about 1/2 an hour of cool phenomena related to a good hail storm that will work their way into my publishing timeline.
Boy I was traveling and I sure didn’t want to get under that. It’s hard to predict the motion of something like this and drive at the same time. You have to stop. Which is where it overtook me. It’s about 7 miles away from me at this point and heading right my way. I weathered the storm behind a stand of large well needled pine trees. Trees are of course a dangerous place to be during lightning but this really wasn’t an electrical storm. I was on rubber tires so I wasn’t too worried about ground currents in the truck. It was definitely a hail storm and that was a VERY heavy shaft of rain/hail. I call that a “Water DUMP” .
When streams run up here high on the ridges, there is going to be high water down drainage for sure. All this surface area really adds to the number of gallons concentrated in the valleys. Some canyons off this ridge are a hundred feet deep cut into the Cretaceous Sandstones underlaying my parking place. I saw more running water after this passed than I’ve seen in years. The hail was small marble sized fortunately but we got a bit of it. There are many more (many) more photos from this weather event’s timeline.
The events in the aftermath of this were VERY interesting to me. I saw some phenomena I haven’t seen in decades. Click, Click, Click, Click …. So many choices, so little time ….
These monster storms often miss us entirely, sometimes not so much. We had one roll right over us dropping 1/2 hour of up to 3 inch hail on the place. A mile wide strip of crushed grass and broken things. There were at least three ranches up here along the border that got pummeled in early July by one of these big clouds. We do get much needed rain from the periphery of these big fellows. Sometimes you get a little more than you need. Flash Floods, Hail, Lightning, Tornado’s do come out of these. Occasionally we get just a nice rain 😜
The HUGE country up here only sees a few tornados a year. The big rotating mass (like a 80 mile wide top with a 20 mile across base) spins very slowly, imperceptively so. The drafts and wind currents clearly visible along the sides. The center of the cloud was still growing taller in this point in the storms timeline. Rotational energy in the horizontal that turns into vertical becomes problematic. Tornado’s are no fun except to see at a distance.
I followed this storm for about 3 hours leading into late twilight. It was such a good projector screen later in the evening for that late twilight “Belt of Venus” pink and orange. The road way added a few layers to this red tinted landscape. It’s Golden Hour lighting at this point in the timeline. That just hasn’t reached up to the clouds yet just hitting the ground as I clicked this frame.
If the sky was going to do this, I prefer this distance. Though I understand ground currents from Lightning can hit you many miles away. This Storm is 20 miles south and I’m on rubber tires. You can see the somewhat obscured “wall” cloud surrounding the center of the much larger Mesocyclone storm that though centered south, is over us like a hat brim on a Stetson™.
I close the camera down to light and give the shutter 5 seconds in early twilight. It’s dusky dark which is how I finished the image. This is effectively a short time exposure. Caught two lightning events here. The left two went first followed quickly by the right bolt in the hail shaft.
This is the last post of mine before Facebook transitions to an entirely new format the first of September 1. I post all my FB work using software, not direct posts. When they beta tested the New FB months ago, tried it, my system of posting failed miserably. I have NO IDEA how this is going to work or not as of tomorrow morning (as this posts). We have a “ticket” into our software company a week old now. As I type this, it is the 25th of August. If I miss any number of normally scheduled posts during this change over, I apologize ahead of time. I will figure it out.
If you don’t think one is dangerous and the other isn’t, you need to live up here a while. It would change your opinion. Two things that can mess up your day are in this image lol. You might have to look closer to see the 5 deer and one bedded Pronghorn. The thunderhead (Mesocyclone) Anvil is about 80 miles distant from the Bull. The sub-irrigated field still green even this late in the year.
Bulls are of course known to be temper-mental. I find generally they are lazy unless there is a Cow involved. In which case 1800 pounds of moving muscle on the hoof is a lot of hamburger to flip on the grill. This is the sized animal that if it decides to screw with you, your best bet is to start turning faster than he can lol. It’s your only hope lol. Being on a good cattle horse is a whole different experience of course.
The Huge Mesocyclone off in the distance is known to be temper-mental. Their bad behavior is due to the heating of the land by the sun during the day. The rising warm humid ground air coming into contact with cooler air aloft causing cloud growth. Like the bull, you can never predict what they are going to do.
Both will run right over you if you get in their way :(.
Belt of Venus pink light reflecting off of the projector screen that those two HUGE Mesocylones become at this time of day. The sun had already set. THe shadow of the horizon was climbing up the massive storms base toward totally shadowing the screen. The right independent storm was in deep shadow of the storm to the left. Both were dangerous to be under. They were 80 miles to the north and a bit east from my location here in Wyoming. Hoovering and pounding on the Ekalaka Montana/TriState area (North Dakota, South Dakota, and Montana).
IT’s easy to see something 30,000 feet high from only 80 miles out. Clear twilight air after similar storms moved through our area made them look just over the horizon. Clear as a bell with most of the dust washed out. The top of the tower on the left still being illuminated by the first yellow light affiliated with the “golden hour” sunset. The bottom of the cloud in horizon shadow. That is pretty much the entire gradient during late sunset with the horizon rising over my shoulder. The sky high above is still blue as it’s being illuminated by mostly unfiltered light still with Blue color remaining. THe lower atmosphere filters out the blue leaving only the longer wavelengths to bounce back to my camera. You can clearly see the hazy layer terminating just above the high cloud tops.
When one of these Mesocylcones moves over you, the understanding of how insignificant our concerns are compared to the scale of a storm such as this. This storm was 80 miles to our north and certainly covered parts of 3 states. I’m taking the photo from Wyoming looking northeast toward Ekalaka Montana not far from the triple border area of Montana/South Dakota/North Dakota.. That is very close to the exact geographic center of the North American Continent coincidentally.🤔 (Factoid out of the blue).
I had followed this storm around a while working the light here just as the last gasps of the light of day skiffs off the hill tops. A complex cloud system 360 degrees surrounding me made for an interesting evening. Focusing here on the “backshow” of the main show over my left shoulder. Looking here to the northeast near Rockypoint Wyoming. I’m pretty sure a lot of people saw this show about 10 days before this posts. My current time from click to publishing is around that interval this summer.
I photograph a lot of weather systems these days. I couldn’t ask for a better time of day with the lighting that night. Note the top of the storm is white with blue sky. That is unfiltered light. The lower part of the storm is illuminated by the same red light skiffing off the hilltops. The late “Golden Hour” red colorcast is related to the “Belt of Venus” alpenglow colors but the cloud is the projecting screen. In true “Belt of Venus” colorcast the projector screen is ice in the atmosphere not clouds. It’s the same type of light though, all filtered of it’s shorter wavelengths of indio blue and green. Only orange through red survive to be reflected to my lenses. The colors here are true to the scene I saw. It got a LOT redder later in this timeline. The lower in the cloud, the longer through the atmosphere the light had to travel. Stay tuned for those later images. Brilliant orange stuff… 📷
Location: The Pass at Rockypoint Wyoming, 10 miles from the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)
I had to think a little ahead this evening to get to this particular pond as the sun was going down. Timing… I became aware of these about an hour and a half before sunset. All the way (about 10 miles of gravel backcountry roads) to this little pond with somewhat of a north view. I would have liked to have had a reflecting pond on that ridge top but I’m thinking that would have been too much to ask for lol. They look like at atomic bomb cloud and actually have as much energy wound up as a small A-bomb.
This is just a small stock pond below a water tank up high in the backcountry. . I’ve seen lots of wildlife and Angus here historically. This evening was not a busy one for the critters at dusk. I figure they were up on the higher ridges getting a look at these two Massive storms off 85 miles North. I’m standing near the Montana / Wyoming border but those storms are 80 miles north and slightly east. This places them across the Montana, South Dakota/NorthDakota Triple border area. The two storms covering parts of 3 states.
The sunset that night was perfect for these storms to light up with the plethora of orange light we’ve been having of late. The fires west of us reddening up the already color cast nature of the “Golden Hour”. I worked this storm system from afar for about 2 hours. We have had our share of bad weather this year. Hopefully late summer and early fall will be more gentle.
Let me say right off this is a 60″ x 20 ” triptych image of the Devils Tower and the Missouri Buttes Volcanic Field. It was taken during 85 degree F weather in the LATE golden hour lighting. The storm that laid down this large swath of hail made national news in early August 2020. Bikers were certainly driving around the tower on the far side. This side of the 1000 foot high devils tower is “Slathered” with hail and Ice.
The atmospheric moisture between where I stand and the 35 mile distance to the tower is thick. It is mostly precipitation drifting off the rear of the huge mesocyclone just passed though this country. It was Pounding western South Dakota as I was taking this image. This is just the trailing edge still hanging over Wyoming. I followed this storm for 3 hours working the range of photographic activities you might expect of such a big customer as this storm.
I’ve never even seen this in winter before. I’ve worked this scenery a hundred times or more. How do you coat the steep (vertical) sides of a Dark Rock National Monument totally white? Just add a few inches of a few inch across hail and all sorts of things can happen lolol.
Location: The pass at Rockypoint Wyoming (Trail Creek Rd) on the Border of Campbell Co, Crook county being a few miles south of the Montana border.
The Emergency Alert was going off on the Local Radio Station warning of golf ball sized hail, 60 mph winds with dangerous lightning. I’m not much for heading down the basement. I’d rather drive up a local ridge and watch it all develop. I don’t have cell service up here in the backcountry so I don’t have radar. I have to react visually to what I’m seeing. Fortunately this one wasn’t moving directly at me staying about 20 miles to my south.
These storms are huge and while we did get a direct hit, the 50+mph outflow from it was “sporty” up on a high ridge line. I often have to set up and tear down camera gear very quickly to keep them from getting wet. Rain coming in a vehicle window is not good for high end camera gear. I know there are rain coats for cameras lol. Just another layer of complexity I think. I’ve been known to pull off of the ridges onto the leeward side of the hill to get out of the highest winds. Some of these Mesocyclone can get pretty sporty before you know it. It’s always good to have a plan be. I’m about a mile away from someplace I can pull behind/under at this particular spot.
This is a classic wall cloud surrounding and acting as a floor to the massive cloud above. The back side of these storms (right) is usually the worst hail. Those shafts are hail not rain. The hail is often hidden in the rain too. That tendency caught me off guard during our big hail storm in early July this year (2020). I didn’t see it incoming. No radar remember…. In the front (left) , you can see the rain precipitation wedge in the front of the storm ahead of it’s motion. The down drafts forcing the rain sideways forming the wedge.
First of all let me say this was the storm that went over “Devils Tower” about 3 hours later. Traveling about 3 hours later I photographed the “Devils Tower” all white from the hail . This storm made national news I understand though I didn’t see the coverage. I got a bird’s eye view of the center of this huge Mesocyclone. The area of hard precipitation with this storm was at least 20 miles across. A good metaphor to this is a big spinning top with that wedge shaped area of precipitation a down draft from above. It is a huge storm just drifting where it wants to go. Areas under it are going to get “Slathered” by either hail or hard rain or both. Usually sideways from the downdrafts affiliated with such a large storm.
The lightning bolts were at least 40 miles out from my location. I was up much higher on the ridge than the surrounding ground for the perspective. View straight south from “Rattlesnake Hill” over the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch Headquarters. . I’m essentially standing on the Montana / Wyoming border looking straight south.
My time exposure here was only 1.5 second. I’m not sure which bolt went first. It was WINDY from the downdrafts affiliated with that storm. Being on a ridge top only enhances that. I try to stay out from under those lightning area by using telephotos to suck me into the image. I have been surrounded by it before in my younger foolish days. It is intelligent to respect lightning and hail very much from these storms. I will dive for cover as I deem necessary. Safety is a concern.
This was actually a pretty rough storm up on the ridges. I pulled the truck off the top with the top winds (at my house clocked at 54 mph). I was up in the storm so I’m pretty sure I was in 60 mph winds. Pulling my truck on the backside of a hill helped moderate the buffeting. No hail other than slush. Since my truck is already a hail victim, I’m not so worried now about the little storms. I know it’s limits. It’s already golf ball hail tested lol.
The leading edge of the center of these big curved Mesocylcones (the kind of storm here) is where the rain comes out. The hail you can see in the distance. I have to fight rain with cameras so parking such to keep the water out of the lens is handy. Not always possible. About the time those rain/slush shafts hit. I had to put all the gear in it’s baby seat. Then I headed for wind cover off the topographic high. The max wind on our ranch this year in July clocked at 84. That is above the 78 mph we got in 2015. We have had some wind damage along with the fire (by lightning) and hail storm in early July. I’m thinking 2020 is a “Mulligan” year.
This is a harsh environment. I can’t imagine much damage on a sod roof of the 1910 homesteader up here. The 3 inch hail that caused so much damage here recently wouldn’t have hurt anything but the grass around them (might just be a big deal). But it didn’t break the host of plastic things we have in our environment. In the model T days, I suspect the metal was such that it wasn’t going to dent lol. The glass… I’m sure there were replacements in the Sears and Roebuck catalogue. 🤔
I worked the storm that led to this photo for almost 3 hours. “Devils Tower” here is Hail Covered White. This was taken about 10 days ago when Crook County Wyoming made national News with it’s weather. I doubt more than a few dozen people saw this phenomena from this direction or at all… Sun only lit it up for a few minutes while I was working this storm over volcanic neck complex with several long lenses. I have never seen the Tower covered in hail before. I believe this is as white as I’ve ever seen it. The storm that dropped all this ice clearly visible on the three Missouri Buttes too was a big one. It ran east to west about 20 miles south of where I was observing it from.
I’m just starting to work this timeline finishing the images and writing appropriate narratives for each. Lots of lightning captures from this storm. This capture is at the end of the timeline.
Remember these posts are all book pages in my eventual coffee table book. Currently it’s over 1800 pages long about life and times up here in Wyotana. Admittedly the tower and the Buttes are all Wyoming. I’m standing about 4 miles south of Montana in northernmost Wyoming. I consider about 10 miles either side of the border (Wyotana).
Bear in mind this in early August, not winter. It was 80 degrees when I took this. An ice covered national monument is always an interesting image I think lolol. At the time I actually said “WoW out loud. Slathered with hail appears to be the towers fate . I hope no one was on the trail walking around it. If so they saw it up close and personal. All the while “slathered” too lol.. Hopefully no one was hurt. Hostile Environment sometimes up here. 📷
Location Pass at Rockypoint Wyoming, Trail Creek Road, Campbell County Wyoming.
These balls of ice (I have big hands) fell in all sizes for over 1/2 an hour in early July. I’ve been juggling replacing vehicles and settling insurance claims. It’s hard to keep up with all the paperwork and the immediate damage repair even a month later. Life on the great plains …🤘
Our ranch had a stripe of hail damage about a mile wide move right over the homestead. Though we had a hail event in 2008 that resulted in a low 6 figure dollar claim, this one is much worse. . It took over a year to repair all the damage in 08. I’d estimate this storm twice the damage with inflation and current costs.
My M813 Military Truck only had damage to the cheap accessory mirrors. All the military glass survived uncracked. No dents in that truck yet lol. I had two antique jeeps under roof but every other vehicle suffered damage including a very nice 1994 Jeep ZJ. Dented for sure. . It caught us off guard. I was up the hill taking photos and had just returned. There was no indication to me anything but a rain shaft was incoming until it was too late to act. Take cover and enjoy the show.
We have found no dead animals from this event here. Several surrounding ranches were also pelted with these balls and equally as damaged in this area. I’m aware of 3 homesteads effected it might be a bit more. That’s unusual for a low population density area. It’ was a big Mesocyclone. It just chose to send the big stuff at us. I’ve seen bigger but not many for as long a hail assault. MILLIONS of ball peen hammers hit the 47,000 square feed of metal roof we have over our buildings. I filmed these guys crashing through the porch roof. (skylights of fiberglass panels between metal sheets. ). Needless to say, it’s a long story lol. We are all fine and thank you for your best wishes in advance.
We will recover. Been here done this. YES the Raptor took roof dents. I didn’t buy a sunroof for a reason. Just a broken mirror, a cowling and about 200 top/rear dents. New vehicle this year…. Liberating, I don’t have to worry about dents now 👅. It will be repaired.
This pair of 30 mile across spinning tops of a storm called a “Mesocyclone” stretched across the Montana /Wyoming border 20 miles south and 45 miles north to Broadus MT. Internet Radar showed it pretty well considering. We are in a Doppler Radar shadow zone between Rapid City and Billings. These storm showed up paired up which I don’t see too often. Two alien ships approaching as in the movie “Independence Day”.
These Mesocyclones are a curse and a blessing depending on where you are when they go over you. Usually there is a rain shaft or two in them. Sometimes it just rains like heck and the storm parks over you. We got .45 inch from this storm “front” moving through. That is a HUGE amount of water during a very dry summer. We feel fortunate to get it.
If you look at the trees on the landscapes first ridge, you can see the burnt area from recent grass fire on ranch. We BARELY kept it out of the trees on the other side of that hill. Starting on the right, blown to the left It did run about 1/2 a mile. If it had been unattended, it would have made it across the 10 miles to Biddle Montana by the next day. The phone tree worked resulting in neighbors with water/sprayers on their truck coming out of the wood work. It takes a community. 😀
Seen from the hill I climbed after a lighting storm to “look around”. When I first saw it, it was very small. 20 minutes later, the first break in the fire left to right was us driving across in front of it. It still got past our first pass as the 20 mph winds drove it.
Spanning across the Montana / Wyoming border, this Wall Cloud was prominent that late afternoon. This is a classic weather phenomena wrapping around under a 60 mile across Mesocyclone. Huge but spinning like a lumbering huge top. This is the center of the storm with this cloud wrapped around in a pretty tight circle maybe 20 miles wide. Generally the weather around these wall clouds is not the best. Everything above it is serious business but this one was still growing. Tornados come out of these things but the hail is the most dangerous part of the whole shebang. Lightning of course too… sometimes dry lightning…. It continued to grow. Later to cause havoc over in Carter County Montana. Flash flooding with this one. We didn’t get much out of this, a few drops at best.
Not getting rain from one of these storms is not necessarily a terrible thing. It’s a clear case of be careful what you ask for…. I’ve seen 4 inches fall in 45 minutes under one of these that stalled over our place. We also just recently enjoyed up to 3 inch hail for 30 minutes as that storms forward momentum dropped to nothing. Low to mid 6 digits worth of damage this month. They stall but continues to pour cats, dogs, buckets, fish or cometary debris if the storm is big enough lolol. Or it might just hail in one place for an hour. Beating everything and anything not sheltered there senseless. I’m truly amazed finding no dead animals after that big hail storm. Baseballs of ice falling from these can really ruin your sense of well being. Or for that fact, your well being…☹️
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.
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. ).
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.
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.