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.
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.
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…☹️
Dry lightning…..Taken right off my front porch this time of year is not what I’d like to see. It’s a little dry for this crap. I will set up a camera with a lightning trigger under the metal covered porch roof at just the sound of thunder. In a heart beat. I like to see some rain around those bolts though durn it…. .
Historically this spot on the front porch has been a water safe place for the fairly expensive camera rig not to get a shower. Fortunately I didn’t have one set up during the serious hail storm we had a few weeks back. Big things 3 inch hail stones crashed through the skylight of that porch the other day my cameras are usually under. Didn’t hurt the tripods set up there though. Lucky… Any of this kind of activity has some risk either personal or financial attached. I’m just glad I don’t have to photograph charging African Elephants with only a camera and a jeep. Now a lightning bolt will mess up your day just like an elephant only a lot faster.
I have ringed my house with an effective grounding rod system. It is better grounding than we are. (Ham Radio) Wireless computer connections, wireless phones make most communication safe during lightning. Don’t use the wired ones though. We have had lightning strike our back yard trees several times killing a few along the way. It’s not good to be outside in this country when you live around the trees. The ground tends to be wet which tends to enable ground currents to travel. Those electrons will ruin your day too. You have to just love lightning 😔 It does have the qualities one of which is being photogenic. 😀 📷
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.
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.
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. 📸
Just to give you an idea of scale of this image, that white roof is the size of a regulation football field. That building is our stock barn next to my homesteads compound. (I call that our “infield”). This was taken using a 12 mm (very wide angle) lens to take in about 100 degree slice of sky. The top of the photo is essentially straight up. In other words, this is a big wide/tall view of about 1/3rd of the sky. This was right over us and worse moving in.
This was a mean one. The actively rolling Jump rope hoop on the right center was rotating nicely. It reminds me of a “Smoke ring” for some reason. Seeing obvious rotation is always an adrenaline rush. Then the rush for cover….
After the fact…checking my Davis Pro II weather stations (2) data on the actual stations showed two different high wind speeds. Station 1 was high wind of 79mph with Station 2 coming in at 84mph.
This storm did indeed do some damage and I got down to that big roof to ride out the storm under. It blew a plexiglass window out of the frame in that building, cartwheeled a previously nice calf shed over a fence, (damaged it), and tipped over 2 long empty above ground gasoline tanks on stands. We get high winds all the time so damage to trees was minimal around the house. Having said that, I have seen several broken pines out in the backcountry showing fresh damage. When you have full grown pine trees snapping, it’s classified as a “Stiff” Wyotana breeze. 😜📸
Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana) May 2020
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.