Thursday, August 20, 2009

08/20/09 Photogenic Local Thunderstorms

Thunderstorm showing off its picturesque nature
southeast of Kewanee, IL

Today, a few thunderstorms developed locally around 7:00pm during peak heating across Illinois and provided a few picturesque photos in the western horizon. Just enough moisture was present in the low-levels combined with surface heating and cold-air aloft which aided in the development of these storms near sunset. I added a few photos below including a quick time-lapse:

First view of the thunderstorm as it approaches
Beautiful intense rain shaft with this storm
thanks to some awesome contrast
Thunderstorm actually strengthens upon arrival,
but still below severe-criteria
Rain shaft and outflow nearly overhead
An easy find across from the front porch...rainbow!
Another cell at sunset to my south
with some mammatus under the anvil

YouTube time-lapse (above)

Monday, August 10, 2009

08/09/09 August Electrical Storms

August lightning display near Princeton, IL

Wow, what an insane day for severe weather and intense thunderstorms thanks to the August summer-heat. It's hard to get tornadoes during August, but what you can get is some extreme wind events and incredible lightning displays here in the Midwest and yesterday was one of those days. This was all thanks to the well known "ring-of-fire" pattern that fires off convective complexes on the central plains heat dome's periphery. On Sunday, I debated on chasing either in northern Illinois and/or Iowa due to an enhanced damaging wind threat. However, I changed my mind once I analyzed outflow boundaries from several convective complexes pushing southeast toward central Illinois from eastern Iowa. These boundaries were heading into an area of extreme instability 4,500-5,000J/kg of CAPE analyzed by the RUC. By late afternoon a bow-echo was racing east across central Iowa into this area as well, but a warm-layer aloft (cap) was suppressing convection from forming all afternoon near the boundary. Nevertheless, thanks to an unstable-moist environment and ascent from the previous mentioned bow-echo the cap was "zipped" west-to-east along this boundary at sunset across central Illinois. This provided several local photo-ops. Yes, I missed some insane shelf clouds photographed in Iowa, but by chasing locally I have no regrets based on some of the images I was able to grab during the evening and overnight. I don't think I called it a night till about 1:00am! I grabbed many convective tower shots near sunset than switched over to lightning-mode for about 4-hours. Witnessed a few bolts from the "blue" as it seemed everything was electrically charged last night thanks to the extreme instability that was along this boundary. So all in all, I may have missed some incredible shelf clouds in Iowa, but I wasn't left empty-handed by any means. I've included many photos below from yesterday as it was incredibly hard to choose my favorites. Note: I'd highly recommend enlarging the lightning photos while viewing to get the most dramatic effect...

Amazing shot here as this tower accelerates vertically allowing for the cirrus above to be forced
giving you that levitation-look
Yet another...just goes to show you when the cap breaks the
vertical momentum of updrafts is quite strong
(Click to enlarge...)
This tower initiates and later becomes a very healthy thunderstorm
As the sun sets here it's incredible what Mother Nature can produce in a simple photograph
Another awesome updraft shot...
having the right lens makes all the difference
Turkey towers along OFB struggling to overcome the cap initially
Another "levitating cirrus" above this updraft
with strong vertical momentum

Close-up of a "Turkey tower"
Yet another updraft shot...
First branching stroke of the evening...a night where everything
seemed like it had an electrical charge
The start of several storm structure/lightning shots
Thunderstorm that exhibited some rotation near Princeton, IL
showing off its lightning display

Dual positive strokes???
If you're into photographing lightning last night was your night...
Simply beautiful and dangerous at the same time
Not as long as an exposure here, but if this was daylight that would be a "bolt-from-the-blue" above or in this case a "bolt-from-the-stars"
Branching ground stroke originating from this storms updraft
I'm sure people were saying "Oh, that's heat lightning" last night...umm NO!!! their is no such thing as heat lightning
Just an insane lightning display to my east
Talk about a great night for
lightning thunderstorm structure shots I'd say
A short YouTube time-lapse (above)