Storm Chasing Trip Photos

blacktara

Arachnobaron
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Jan 23, 2005
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Okay. Today is a down day chasing-wise. Sitting here in Plainview Texas sifting thru the pics I have gotten so far and thought I'd post a few. I'll add to these over the next week as I get more good stuff.

So this'll be a mix of storm photos (including 1 tornado) and other scenery from the trip

Let's start with what's called a roll cloud, which is a rolling outflow feature. This is from a storm near Fowler, Colorado on May 29



Next some mammatus. These humpy clouds that resemble udders (hence the name) form on the underside of the anvil. These were once thought to be the clouds that generated tornados. They are not, but they are cool-looking, and can be spectacular when backlit, as you'll see later



Now things get interesting, as this storm in far Eastern Colorado shows a nicely developing rotating updraft, or meso. It may not be easy to see at first, but notice the swirling pattern to the clouds, indicative of rotation

 
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DrAce

Arachnodemon
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Oh, post more, MORE!

I really have always wanted to storm-chase... but like many things in my life, I doubt those close to me would want to join in.
 

Sheri

Arachnoking
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Very cool - can hardly wait to see the rest of the pictures!
 

blacktara

Arachnobaron
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Ok, some more

Here's the same meso, now with a nice lowering. The lowering is rotating, so it can be called a wall cloud




Another wall cloud, this time with a funnel (not a tornado tho, cuz there's no evidence of rotation on the ground) This one actually happened before the first one, but I show it later as it's further along on the way to being a tornado.




This storm kept trying. Every few minutes it would cycle and another lowering would try to funnel. Here's another one, with a decent view of the structure of the rest of the storm

 
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blacktara

Arachnobaron
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It looks like anothertry at a funnel, but this one wasnt rotating, so it can only be called a lowering




And then, tornado. In this pic, you cant see ground circulation, but we found out later that the Doppler on Wheels guys confirmed ground circulation at the time this was taken. It was already weakening and pulled up very shortly after the pic was snapped, but a minute or two before it had been strong enough that the DOWS folks were thinking of trying to launch a probe.




Now here's just a great pic of the beast known as a high precipitation supercell rumbling along the plains. Note the well developed striations indicative of deep rotation and the wall of grey which is the precipitation core (a place you do not want to be).




You'll notice in the series of pics that the updraft is in varying positions with relation to the core at different phases in the life of the storm. This pulsing activity is not unusual, but the degree to which this storm demonstrated it, with mesos (updrafts) forming almost in conveyor belt fashion, was impressive

Later on, I'll post more. No more tornados, but some nice clouds, a sunset, and some pretty storm framed scenery
 
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ErikH

Arachnoangel
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Very nice photos. I've always had the desire to see a tornado first hand, but I am also somewhat greatful that I haven't.
 

Taceas

Arachnolord
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Awesome photos! I'm a storm freak. It's nice that there you can see around you for miles, around here you're not so fortunate. Please post more! Thanks for explaining what exactly a meso is, I'm an SPC website fan and never could figure out the mesoscale discussions. ;)

The last time I went out to watch a storm come in with my mom, we heard on the radio "A Tornado Warning has been issued and the tornado is expected to hit Patoka, Indiana within 2 mins...Take Cover!"

Where were we sitting? Patoka. So I sped off along a county road trying to get a house of an older couple we knew that had a basement...and along the way my car got hit with a tree top and a bunch of gravel on the left side. The road was actually about 6ft below the surrounding land, and most of the debris was blowing over us. I think that was our only saving grace.

When we get to the family friend's house he's standing outside with a beer watching the storm go by his house and when we get out he asks "What the hell you two dummies doing out in this weather?" {D

Patoka is usually a 10 minute drive from our home...that night, it took us 3 hrs to get home. It pummeled Patoka and our own home was without power for over 2 weeks courtesy of all of the trees down.
 

blacktara

Arachnobaron
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WOW WOW WOW! Here it was, a down day, and we are eating Domino's and watching a Foxworthy special, when a cell over Dimmitt Texas (not an hour from where we were in Plainview) takes on a really nice radar signature. Off we went, and what a show - awesome storm structure, a rain wrapped tornado, and some lightning shots

Let's start off with the money shot. This shows a rain wrapped tornado, which is very dangerous, because if you dont recognize the possibility of danger, it'll be raining and hard to see and then suddenly the thing is on you. What happens is that RFD - rear flank downdraft - wraps around the mesocyclone and tornado - Of course this cold outflow if it completely wraps around will choke off the inflow to the tonado and kill it. Anyway, in the pic, it's a little hard to see (but plain as day once you find it). Look in the middle of the big wedge of rain shaft and you will notice the tornado snaking down from the little lowering in the dark grey streak of cloud above the rain shafts




After approaching the storm from the southeast, we had to keep moving every few minutes, because with the whole storm moving south-southeast, the edge of the FFD (forward flank downdraft) would start to overtake us, bringing with it a taste of the hail at the real core. This stuff is pretty small, but it can still leave a mark.




And here's a few lightning pics. Unless you are foolhardy and deliberately core-punch or ignore when the surface winds indicate outflow is on it's way, photographing lightning is actually the most dangerous part of chasing. It may look like it's way off over there, but lightning can come from anywhere within the storm - I figure if it was for meant for me to exit in that fashion, then so be it.




 

Ewok

Arachnoangel
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Cool pictures! I like storms too, its the excitment before the storm I like. Its neat how open it is out there where you live.

Where I come from in FL, we are the lightning captial of the world, we get some neat thunderstrms too, not to mention hurricanes lol.
 

xgrafcorex

Thread Killer
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awesome pictures! i love storms. kind of even looking forward to hurricane season this year.

granted, i haven't tried very often..but i've never been able to photograph lightning so far. i guess i haven't had the camera handy during a pretty active storm, but you pretty much just have to take a ton of pics and catch some here and there heh. thanks for sharing your photos though. :clap:
 

blacktara

Arachnobaron
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I just noticed that between photobucket's downsizing and my crappy laptop monitor, many of these look like pixelated crap. I can email some of the original pics (not downsized by photobucket.com) if folks like. It would after I get home and over time cuz the originals are large files (2-5 meg each
 

jr47

Arachnobaron
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i love storms, im always the one driving to while everyone is driving away. ive seen 4 tornadoes. one within 100 feet but i really hope that doesnt happen in the near future. thats close enough to make you feel like its all over. but it was very cool once it was gone.
the weirdest was lightning that struck so close it took my breath and made all my hair stand on end. i could feel the heat and smell it but it was behind me so i didnt get to see it. i have had a little more respect for lightning storms sense then.
nice pics.
 

Scott C.

Arachnofloater
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The second, and last photos are extremely beautiful... I'd love some e-mailed for desk tops if you really don't mind...
Great stuff!
 

Ewok

Arachnoangel
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the 7th and 9th pics would look really nice matted and framed I htink, I like the contrast between the fields and the storm.
 

DrAce

Arachnodemon
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Photography of Lightning

What's the best way to photograph lightning?

I have a digital camera, but it seems to take a half hour to take a single picture, and by the time it gets around to doing as it was told, the lightning is over.
 

Taceas

Arachnolord
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Lightning is one of those unattainable things for me as well. I've tried and tried and tried, and nothing works. And I adore lightning pictures, I even had a calendar of nothing but lightning photography, and I actually still have it from 1997 (iirc) just for the pictures. Haven't found another lightning calendar since.

I've got a Nikon D80 that I still don't really know how to use all of its functions, which is heaps better than my old Olympus that I swear took over a minute to take a picture from the time you pushed the button.

But we've just had a lack of good storms here lately, and due to our terrain there aren't that many open spaces with a good view of a decent storm. By the time you can see it, all you see is grey and clouds. =P
 

Ewok

Arachnoangel
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I have never taken pics of lightning, but I have taken pictures of fire works. I set my camera to the burst mode I call it, I forget what it is really called lol, but it takes multiple frames a second. You just hold down the shutter button and the camera will continaully take pictures at a fast shutter speed until you take your finger off. Most digital point & shoots have it, your D 80 definantly will. An icon for it should be on your selector knob for manual and automatic settings, it looks like three rectangles stacked on top of each other.
 

blacktara

Arachnobaron
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Jan 23, 2005
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To photograph lightning, use your metering to give you what it indicates as slight underexposure - with an aperature setting that gives you as long an exposure as possible. You want the slight underexposure setting so that ambient light or cloud to cloud flashes dont overexpose it.

The shots above are at ISO 1600, 10-30 second exposures

I have the first one as my desktop and it looks pretty darn nice.
 
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