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…..
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 ….
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.
IT was/is VERY dry out. It has been in the 90’s for an extended period. Precipitation has been low all year. In HUGE contrast to the previous year.
A long day ended and an instant after I closed my eyes it seemed. Out of the night I was awakened by the rumble in the distance through the walls of my homestead. Generally being pretty quiet up here but for the roosters in the morning, I sat up to take notice. My fire watch instinct kicked in… On went the fire resistant pants and wool socks. I get to the porch all dressed up…. It started to rain…. pretty well.😜
Lightning flashed every 5 or 10 seconds but most of it was not visible to me where I stood. My window under a metal roof this night was fairly limited by the wind. I hesitate to put expensive gear out where left unattended, it might get knocked over or soaked. So I keep it close. I do keep a properly built “ground ring about my homestead. In 2 decades of living here. I’ve never had a lightning strike come into the house. I learned to build “ground rings” after building several Ham Radio Shacks and a communications tower on hill tops. Burying copper wire or water pipe recycled is a good way to get a proper path to ground before ground currents get you. It’s always better to have the best ground outside your place.
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.
Taken 7 days before it posted here. This is one frame out of several dozen that I got from watching this storm. The limiting ridge is several miles away. This is an aimed telephoto shot on an area of sky I was watching. It was a “little” active there. This was well after sunset with a heavily overcast sky above. It was pitch black except for the bolts in the distance.
I use triggered time exposures to capture lightning in my photon trap bottles. This particular image happened over 25 seconds. The first two bolts on the left happened 4 seconds into the exposure. The two others happens within the next 10 seconds with a few seconds of inactivity before the shutter closed. Then the camera too another 25 seconds to perform low noise processed the times for a proper rendering. I work these scenes with two camera quite often to alternate between the rigs so as not to miss much.
Needless to say, this is a busy shot and I’m glad I don’t have burning ground to my south and east. It was raining as you can see from the rain shafts. I’m thinking those bikers got drenched for the second day in a row. A geographic location called “Lightning Flats” is about 15 miles to our east. We could give Tampa Florida a run at times for it’s money. Lightnings a serious deal up here too.
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.
Mid-day the rainbow arch is very low to the ground. Rainbows late in the day are tall portions of a semi circle arch. Your just seeing the outside top edge of a big circular rainbow if you were in a plane looking from above. This is a pretty low bow…😜
IT looks like a sheet rainbow but that is only because the telephoto lens I’m using is looking at the base of this rainbow about 6 miles out. Telephotos CRUSH perspective by covering a LOT of distance into a small frame. There are a couple of ranch homesteads out in that country but you sure can’t see them from this vantage point. One of my limitations is the actual topography that I am on. I’d love to have a 1000 foot high peak around here with a good road up to the top …..👅 📸
This storm had a shaft of hail that JUST missed us. It did leave obvious drifts of white hail off in the distance. Way out looking across the Montana / Wyoming border just up into Montana from where I stand in Wyoming. The rainbow spans the border between the two states. I’d say the base of this bow is at least a mile wide from my perspective. The further back I get, the wider it will look within the limits of the rain area. So distance is usually your friend with long lenses. (I think that is rule #136 of photography).
Taken around 11PM at night of the LONG day we had a dangerous grass fire on ranch. I had gotten up at 3AM to work Neowise Comet the night before. LONG day. A lightning storm around 2 pm started a fire over a ridge about a mile from my homestead. Instantly upon hearing thunder I jumped in the Raptor. Used it’s agility to quickly get the heck up the 400 foot hill I climb to see around. Binocs come out. Sure enough, smoke in one of our fields and a rapidly growing area of flame in 20 mph winds. Crushed grass from hail and somewhat grazed down fortunately. It took me 20 minutes to get a fire truck to the scene. We activate the local calling tree. The counties involved were both Powder River Mt and Cambell County Wy. The fire was on the border. This conflagration harmed no dinosaurs.👀😜
We are under extreme fire danger up in the country this year with one of the driest June/July’s on record. Last year was one of the wettest. If you don’t like the Wyotana weather, stick around it will change. Such as it been since the beginning of time on earth lolol. We are loaded with hundreds of square miles of hour fuel. A Hour fuel is very combustible. Dry grass for example. Fortunately grass fires are easier to fight than timber fires. We kept it out of the timber.
So we fought that fire, after seeing the Bureau of Land Management crew sitting the fire overnight and wishing them a peaceful night under the stars, I went back toward the homestead only to be waylaid by this little thunderstorm (Mesocyclone) for another hour. Time exposures of up to 30 second. It was a little windy that night as I indicated. The trees are all blurred from moving around in the lengthly 20-30 second period of electronic shutter. Wind moving my truck/tripod is problematic. Particularly if there were any point sources of light around. Blurs result.
Note the stars in the upper right corner of the frame.
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. ).
Just after the sun had set, the Massive rotating storm started to loose the energy that was forming it. Fueled ultimately by rising air from it’s heating influence. Starved from it’s energy source. The Mammatus clouds as above can be a sign of the big rotating storm collapsing.
This particular day was a storm filled afternoon. I suspect that HUGE bolt is 40 miles distant on the “Red Hills” (The name) making up that distant ridge. I use what is called a lightning trigger to “click” my shutter during hours where a time exposure would over expose. You can use neutral density filters on your camera to do time exposures during the day. I’m sort of a purist and don’t like screw on filters in front of my lenses. I have had images ruined by ghost images due to their effect. I point at the sun a lot, lightning probably isn’t that different. Bright Light and all that.
At night however, a long exposure might do you. In pitch black, storm flashing away….need a tripod, with a timer or remote thumb trigger for your camera, start at ISO 300, F4 (ish) and say 20 seconds. Let it flash, wait a second, then click…. Don’t touch anything until the shutter closes. Then look to see what you got. Go longer or shorter exposure to bring the image into reality. Now you know pretty much what I do to do this.
This was the last of the last light of the day making it’s way to the storm. I was using time exposures AND a lightning trigger to make my life easier catching both phenomena in the same frame. Mostly rare Red Rainbows are only formed by the long traveled “Belt of Venus” pink light. Hundreds of miles travel through the low blanket of air surrounding the earth prevents longer light wavelengths from passing. To quote a literary Grey Wizard (at that time) “You Shall Not Pass” (classical reference).
This one was just a quick 50,000 amp or so discharge in the hills back to my southeast. I always go up those hills the next morning to look around. I have to verify there isn’t a fire smoldering in a log somewhere.
This storm system was late in the day for me to see this much. I mentioned time exposure but it was only about 2 seconds. Camera work is all about balancing light between the three settings you need to understand in manual mode. Shutter speed you have control of as one of them. A longer shutter gives you more light to play with. It was very windy at this capture with the truck (my tripod) was shaking. Much over a few seconds was impossible. Faster shutters than 1/2 second and you might miss some of lightning with often ripples through clouds over 1/2 second.
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).
In another 15 minutes this would have been a red rainbow. Considered Rare as they only happen RIGHT at sunset. I know this as it did in fact turn red later but for at this click was still orange. The sun was setting over my right shoulder. It was partially obscured by various clouds at various sections of the timeline here. This series of storms like a train trailing cars ran just to our east giving me wonderful views of the activity sunlit by the colored light. That light reflecting off the storm back to my optics. The long waves surviving the low angle ridge through the curved atmospheric lens.
The sunset ongoing over my right shoulder was in fact quite a good show. It takes a good main show to give me enough light to see the back show during storms. Only a very complex atmosphere could give me the proper conditions for this unusual capture. That is my communications tower just to the right of the bolt. It has been hit hundreds of times. Ummm… working from up there takes larger stones than I have to be up there in a serious electrical storm. I’ve spent a few episodes up there. Grounded all that gear is. Talk about a target lolol.
It is my understanding that Lightning AND Rainbows in the same photo are also unusual as the conditions that cause each are unusual together. I don’t have a lot of the two of them dancing in my portfolio. This storm train provided me with many examples. Before this timeline I may have had one or two in my lifetime. It’s probably just me, I miss things all the time lolol.
I love to work that group of trees for the perspectives from that high ridge. Certainly I’m glad I’m not over there now. Seeing areas you frequent struck by lightning from a distance is a good thing. Better than from up close and personal lolol. This is taken from right at one mile away from the hill that his being struck. This is a very wide angle image showing more of the storms perspective.
These clouds were roiling with the majority of the precipitation behind behind this leading edge. I was surprised by the hail the other day because I don’t have cell signal to give me current radar information. I saw a rain shaft coming and didn’t realize it was full of 2 inch hail lolol.
We are indeed very remote up here. I’m actually going to research radar in vehicles or somewhat to get internet to my vehicle. I do have a communications tower so it’s a matter of how, not if. Might be able to do it for certain spots on the open prairie but not the whole thing. I have internet at my communication tower but that is kind of a silly place to be in a lightning storm.
This was much closer to sunset than others from this timeline. Mostly the clouds above are the only sunlight left. The landscape is illuminated by the lightning bolt plus the ambient lighting from the partially occluded twilight ongoing over my shoulder.
Lightning AND Rainbows together I have determined are an uncommon capture in the same photos. At least during my time travels lol. I’m thinking I have ONE other recent high resolution digital capture taken staring “Sneaky Pete” the windmill with a rainbow plus a lightning shaft. The storm that produced this scene gave me 1/2 dozen other similar captures that will slowly work their way into my daily published posts.
This was a very small part of a very large Mesocyclone I had been tracking on radar all day. It started down in Casper with it’s track bearing down on us. It JUST missed us by a few miles to our east. I’m sad we didn’t get the precipitation but I’m glad this monster missed us. We have had enough wind damage this year. My best to my friends/neighbors to my east after this storm. We all roll the dice with these big prairie Mesocyclones. Basically they are 100 mile across spinning tops of clouds. Tey have the power of an atom bomb expended during it’s brief lifetime. I have some AMAZING larger wide angle storm views of this storm.
Fortunately there wasn’t TOO much lightning that I saw. The fire danger is high. My lightning triggers liked the light on this particular storm. Some times none of the various triggers I use pick up a bolt. I might have three cameras set up on three different camera triggers and only one will take it. Go figure. I endorse no camera lightning triggers as of yet in my professional career. Some bolts are captures such as this.
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. 📸
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. 📸
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…..
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.
Finding a Huge Mesocyclone Spinning 50 miles+ off in the distance, I’m thinking “Perspective” 📸 So I had a “Far Object’. This little Spinning top of a storm with the energy of the atom bomb spread out over it’s lifetime. This is just the right 1/3rd of the storm. I easily could have made a triptych out of the total storm. Over an hour after this capture, I was chasing this storm and indeed took a very wide composite image of the sunset projecting red on this storm. Both daylight AND twilight captures of this storm are now in my portfolio.
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 potential monsters if they roll over you. 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. Yes tornadic activity can occur out of them. Hail is also a HUGE threat.
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 more mid-day . 📸 Having passed right over us. This Mesocyclone storm cloud must have been 100 miles across. Still Blue with white clouds, the twilight colors later in any sunset timeline are a result our star projecting a smooth color gradient filtered through the atmosphere.
Storms with personalities journey through our lands. Some have a sour disposition, others benign. This one was showing off with a very intricate set of flow lines in the storm. Bands of moving air rushing to the up draft built into these huge spinning tops called Mesocyclones. They range in size from embryonic newbies only a few miles across to pure monsters at 100+ miles in diameter. Slowly rotating along the way. The big ones spawn all sorts of problems here on the high plains. Tornados come out of these when well developed. Lots of rotation built into the systems.
The worst of this storm was a little behind this display but this was pretty nifty I thought. The swirling soup that was this storm did produce some small slushy hail with associated gusty winds at my location. Nothing spectacular for this country and NO lightning I could capture. That of course, is what I was waiting for to photograph. This is a very wide rectilinear 10mm lens on a full frame camera. This lens scrunches things on the edge just a little. I corrected for this best I could.
This capture taken across the front yard of the Historic Parks Ranch’s original Homestead. Built around 1900, it is an amazing huge structure. Dated to the 1950’s last remodel. Made of locally obtained wood. Best spot in the watershed for a ranch with a half -dozen nice spring fed lakes around there. Caretakers live on site. Hunters sleep there in the fall.
TWO Big Storms rumble across the high prairie land of Wyotana. The wedge on the left is closer, smaller and in the partial shadow of another storm between it and the sun. The right storm is really huge and ‘muscular” for your “garden variety” of giant storm moving across the high plains. The close storm is 40 miles out obscuring the Devil’s Tower from my view. The larger storm is well over 100 miles out over in South Dakota across that state line. These storms have energy equal to an atom bomb that they expend over their lifespan.
Closed to me the window to the horizon rising early June 2020 Strawberry Moon. These two monsters spinning like tops in the way being effective a keeping me out. By this point in this 30 mile road trip, I was getting impatient for the extra 1/2 hour it took for the moon to rise over that cloud bank.
In full disclosure, this is two very wide images individually stitched side by side inside of the digital darkroom. A real scene though. It is over 160 degrees wide almost 1/2 of the sky. These were really quite a scene. This is of course, the reason I followed the storms out on the road. Waiting just for this moment. The colors are as I experienced them with lighter / whiter clouds at the top and the “Belt of Venus” sunset light projected onto the storms sides.
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…
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.
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.
This shelf cloud from a good sized mesocyclone moving through May 2020. I’m happy to say I only had one small formerly nice calf shed cartwheeled over a fence. As well as two empty standing gasoline tanks/stands blown over from this one. They have been standing for decades. Any hail missed us. I was however, pelted by horizontal rocks and gravel. Carried by the wind gust coming up the hill over the gravel road lower left frame. Looked like a sand storm coming at me.
I’m estimating conservatively it was a 60 mph direct down draft but it was probably 80 mph. My recording wind gauge is currently down waiting for a replacement moment as the winds here wear out the 120 dollar devices every 4 or 5 years. They are actually incoming next week so that will be fixed. I have recorded a 79mph wind on the ranch historically.
I’ve been an observer of weather for some time. The winds usually affiliated with this type of Arcus cloud CAN be pretty severe. I snapped this image along with a few more. Thought the better part of valor was to avoid the worst of it. “Clever Girl” is only 5 months old and has no hail dents yet. I heard golf ball sized hail in this…. didn’t get it. Only .3 inch of rain but we’ll take what we get.
I thought it was pretty nifty this shelf has 3 horizontal rings looping around rotation clearly visible in this capture. The lightning bolt was a rare one in this storm as it really didn’t light up too much. There were some dangerous bolts. When my truck started getting seriously buffeted, I headed for the barn under that big white roof. I left that building’s white roof in the frame for a reason. It is a good scale. That is 1/2 of the roof of a building which is roughly the size of a regulation foot ball field. I’m almost a mile and 200 feet above that building at the click.
This unusual sky happened about 10 days ago on a stormy eventing in mid March 2020. I had been working this sky for several hours photographically due to the wondrous storm clouds moving through the area. As a grand final act of the stage show that evening, a distant storm cloud decided to make a flashlight beam out of the suns blanket. The edge of that ‘little cloud” on the far right horizon blocked and quartered the sun nicely BEFORE it was actually down. It enabled just an amazing sliver of bright sun to cut the ice in the air with it’s light. All the while that light was color casted orange by passing the hundreds of miles long gauntlet of dust and ice in the air.
This “spotlight” beam passing through the atmospheric ice was indeed a worth show to see and capture. I particularly like the lighter blue’s gradient to the darker indigo above. This is a hint of the extreme wide angle lens I was using to capture this 130 degree wide vistas. The top of the photo is nearly straight up. It is difficult to get a proper prospective without a foreground object. The camera was looking south on the left frame to northwest on the right frame. In other words, it’s a huge chunk of the sky. (10 mm full frame lens)I am constantly wow’d by sky show performances up here. I was lucky to have experienced this night.
There are many more capture of the storms moving through that evening that were/are very good captures indeed. They will slowly make it into my workflow. 2’x3′ image aspect
Taken 10 days before it posts mid-may 2020. This is how long it takes me to get a “current” photo in to be published. That is if I bring it to the front of the line. I have to admit I have a bias for big Mammatus. (👀). When I say big you have to realize this storm is about 10 miles long. Admittedly this is a tiny storm for this country that occasionally has 100 mile across mesocyclones develop from these smaller storms. The shelf cloud off to the right was awesome in this storm.
This was one of a series of storms moving south to north along a line that evening. They all were just east of me along Parks/Garst Road up here in Wyotana. The little rainbow as you follow the red gravel road as it curves to the right, was a nice touch from the storm. Lightning? Not so much. The big views we have up on the high ridges gives up 50 to 180 mile long vistas to photograph and observe weather occurring from a distance. I followed this and it’s sister storms moving along the frontal boundary moving through our area. I couldn’t have asked for a better view of this barking dog.
As I type this, the wind blew well over 60 mph last night. Rained sideways for 20 minutes. It said .3 inch but this is suspect lol. I was up photographing the storm come up but got back to shelter before that one came through. I have yet to download the images from that event.