Wednesday, August 13, 2008

08/13/08 LP Thunderstorms & Lightning

A rather nice shelf cloud to my northwest as the cold pool gets established

I spent this evening sitting back and enjoying what mother nature had to offer which was in the form of some thunderstorms riding an advancing warm front. It was a pleasant surprise since these thunderstorms were LP or "low precip". These storms usually give you picturesque photos because more of the "storm structure" is easily visible. Also with these types of storms the rain clears out fast which allows the sun to poke through allowing for rainbows, brilliant sunsets, etc to be viewed pretty often. Sometimes these events produce your best storm photos of the year as well!

Instability increasing shown by these CU towers as the upstream convection approaches

Today, was definitely a good day for storm photography. Around 5pm I wandered out to a spot about a quarter mile away from home to set up and take in the sight of an approaching thunderstorm. Enjoying one of the last "free days" I have left with traveling to Dekalb, IL in a week for move-in day and another academic semester. Storms were moving rather slow at 20mph in some cases this evening which meant it was boring for a bit until the storm got close enough when thunder could be heard.

A rather stormy country road this evening
Another view of the approaching shelf cloud

I didn't expect to see much, but thought I'd get a few good pics. A few was an understatement! I think I took around 200 photos nearly filling up my card for the Canon Rebel Xti. I don't think I've ever had the pleasure to do that before. So this will be a rather long post since their are many photos to choose from, but unfortunately I won't be able to post them all. Anyway back to the weather the storms slowly traversed south from the north/northwest and I didn't know this at the time, but they sent out a "cold pool" while I was out observing which meant I was greeted with a nice shelf cloud. I'll take it since the last few chases haven't even produced a good "shelf". The outflow kind of snuck up on me with a good 20mph gust...and with only being a quarter mile down the road from home I had to storm chase...well...running like hell. That's the first time I've storm chased with my feet instead of a vehicle. Probably will be the last! Luckily, though I got inside before the downpour hit.

All that instability from the day being released as the storm departs
There's that rainbow I was predicting as the odds were in my favor
A new convective tower sours through the atmosphere along the newly developed outflow boundary

These were good thunderstorms, but not quite severe in nature. After the rain passed right on cue...a rainbow appeared for 2 minutes. I watched for a good hour or two. Near sunset the outflow boundary ignited new convection to my southwest so I took some time-lapse video.

Sun beginning to set providing some odd sun rays
Convection continuing to fire on the outflow boundary to my southwest providing some of the better storm structure images as of late
As the sun sets this storm shows it's lightning display producing my best lightning images of the year (Click to enlarge)
This thing just wouldn't let up nearly striking the exact area every was a site to watch (Click to enlarge)

Darkness fell and I thought I'd had enough, but I noticed an awesome lightning show south of me. So I ventured back out for some dusk lightning photography...this was an excellent decision providing the best lightning shots for myself this year. I was astonished at the barrage of intense CG's in a relatively low-CAPE environment from this storm. It was the easiest lightning storm to photograph as nearly every 40sec it would light up and send a CG stroke directly below the updraft. I guess you don't need high-CAPE after all to get good lightning shots! I've been waiting for one of these events and tonight was just that! This was one of those "surprise days" not even severe thunderstorms, but they still provided some great photography!