A Beautiful Storm – Panorama
Stirring in my bed this morning, rubbing the sleep from my eyes, I heard a severe weather alert tone from my phone. Looking at the screen, then checking radar, I was surprised to see a compact and intense area of heavy rain coming our way. It had the hallmarks of a storm that might offer visual drama! So I threw on some clothes, grabbed my trusty camera, and headed out to meet the monster at the city limits.
It’s wonderful having access to high-resolution weather radar in near real-time available on-the-road via iPad. Though I had no problem getting through from one side of the city to the other, the storm was fast coming. Looking around I spied a road I’d never explored; it looked like it offered a wide view to the west so I made a turn and parked at the curb. Yes, a very nice view and just in time!
Rolling in from the west was one of the most beautiful storms I’ve seen: It featured layers of smooth clouds, separated by striations and trailing off into graceful waves. The morning was quiet, the storm silent as it approached. Until the rain pushed in.
Outflow: Rolling in with Rain
I could see above the treeline a soft, curved cloud feature below all of the other layers, slightly glowing in morning light. I began to hear a sound in the distant trees. Wind? No, rain! The outflow cloud was running ahead of a torrent! I shot a few additional frames, calmly walked to my car, got in, and the rain arrived. I headed home.
It was a wonderful way to start the day!
Gust Front – Heralding a Rain Storm June 20
The first storm (above) was one I intercepted based upon radar tracking the evening of June 20. The gust front or outflow boundary was being pushed along by strong gusts of wind, probably peaking at about 30 MPH, followed in due course by moderate rain. Photos from others, in neighboring Lorain County, Ohio show that by the time the cloud formation reached me it was beginning to dissipate. Fun to watch and, as the gusts rocked my parked car, an exciting experience as well.
The image below was a target of opportunity. I driving to Portage County the evening of June 24 when, from the Ohio Turnpike, I watched a storm developing and dropping beautifully silhouetted rain streamers beneath dark clouds and against a bright horizon. I was frustrated that there was nowhere safe to stop and record the view so, as soon as I exited the toll road, I pulled over and shot what I could. Maybe not as dramatic as my highway views but an interesting sight, nonetheless! This photo is an assemblage of several individual images to create a panorama.
Rain Streamers in Silhouette, June 24, 2017.
Approach: A Cold Front Arrives
Scattered thunderstorms were roaming the area. Watching radar, I spied a “gust front” — the leading edge of encroaching cold air — that could be visually interesting. So I headed out to a favorite spot with a fairly good view to the southwest and over Medina. I thought I was well ahead of my target clouds but arrived at the site with clouds already overhead. In this shot a “roll cloud” can be seen in the distance — the actual leading edge of the front. As it passed overhead winds picked up from a breeze to probably 25 MPH and higher … and chilly! My burgeoning interest in weather has led me to get National Weather Service Skywarn Spotter training and, because I had to guess the wind speed I’ve ordered a handheld anemometer. Yeah, I love this stuff!
Radar Image of April 27 Storm Activity – Cloud photo was from a site on the south edge of an area of heavy rain, near West Salem in this image made earlier.
Last Light – Sunday Afternoon
Storm clouds engulf the last remainders of clear sky.
February Thunderstorm – Cloud-to-Cloud
A powerful thunderstorm rolled through the area the night of February 24 – quite unusual, as was the general weather, for winter in Northeastern Ohio.
Lightning arcs in February Thunderstorm – Cloud-to-Cloud and Cloud to Ground in the same space of time!
The storm approached from the southwest and, as it rolled in it was dry at first. I set my camera up in a sheltered patio area and waited for the occasional flash of lightning. Then, as so often happens, rain started and drove me indoors.
Lightning arcs in February Thunderstorm Bursting forth and spreading along the underside of the cloud – a “crawler.” The crawler was weaker, not as bright, as other flashes.
There, thanks to a beautiful new picture window with excellent glass, I was able to continue the shoot from the dry safety of my living room! Unfortunately, most discharges were out of my line of sight or low to the horizon; I did, however, get a couple of decent images.
Sunset Towers – A storm builds in the light of the late-day sun.
UPDATE: A small giclée canvas print of this image was contributed to the annual “In the Pink” show and raffle hosted by Hudson Fine Art & Framing Company in Hudson, Ohio. Proceeds from the sale benefit The Gathering Place, a local organization; their mission is to support, educate, and empower individuals and families touched by cancers through programs and services provided free of charge. I am pleased to have been a part of the show and fundraising effort! For more information on The Gathering Place please visit www.TouchedByCancer.org.
This started out to be an excellent year for photography. In addition to my still work, I was preparing to make my first nature film. Then we decided to buy a house and move. I look back at this blog now and fully realize how fully I dropped my artistic efforts. Finding, buying, and preparing a poorly-maintained house took the balance of summer and, now, the best of autumn. I hope it will be worth it. I do want to share here a photo I have come to love: it is both realistic and dreamlike; it is my remembrance of the seasons passed.
Hot Shot: A Very Intense Bolt of Cloud-to-Ground Lightning
I enjoy photographing lightning. Most of the storms that visit this part of the country arrive with wind, rain, and then lightning and are too “wet” for me to shoot. Those storms that arrive “dry,” with lightning first, seem rare. We had two of those dry, photo-op storms recently. The first, on July 8, I documented here earlier. The second, the night of July 13, didn’t give me much time between its approach and the arrival of rain but did give me an excellent image. Appearances can be deceiving but the spectacular lightning bolt shown here may be the most powerful I’ve ever photographed. Before you say anything: yes, I am careful and shoot only from protected locations!