Time to shake the rust off the gear and mind; it’s storm season again! Coordinated with Adam Boggs and chased with him today. Always great to have his custom software aboard and his excellent navigation skills. We knew today was going to be a slight risk and that the upper level trough was not necessarily going to be timed correctly with daytime heating max; and there appeared to be somewhat of a cap in place too; but still felt there could be something worth chasing.
We met in Aurora and headed east on I-70 and then US 36; our target was around Anton area…at least to wait and see how the day progressed. The cells in our area had a difficult time with the cap and were eroding…we decided to hit the cell about 45 minute north forming around Sterling…southern Colorado looked nice but it was more than we wanted to drive given we wanted to be back in Boulder by 2am. Driving north on 63 was uneventful until we were about 10 miles south of I-76, and then nice looking mothership supercell appeared! We stopped and took some photos; Adam got some great timelapse with his new nifty camera showing this mothership spin like a top!
We decided after getting about 15 minutes of timelapse to follow the storm north as it was getting close to dusk and the lightning was awesome. Of course, as our luck would have it; as soon as we found a nice perch and got the equipment set up (and the sunlight dim enough for several second exposures) the storm died and lost its lightning! But there were other cells just west that were producing some nice lighting and we got a couple of shots. I love the colors around dusk so we shot some photos and the headed west to get closer to the cells producing better lightning.
We ended up in the massive wind farm just west of Peetz on the Colorado/Nebraska border and had a bolt hit the tower next to us (that was scary); we ended up driving to get out of the rain and set up in between three cells and got some great lightning shots. Most of mine were out of focus; still getting use to the new lens I bought (focus on infinity does not work when shooting lightning and each lens has its sweet spot approaching infinity for crisp focus). But viewing the lightning in the middle of the massive wind turbines that went on past the horizon was excellent fun!
The drive home had some wicked lightning along I-76. Down south near Lamar were a couple of tornadoes after dark; so it was a severe day in Colorado. We got some small hail near Brush; but that was the extent of the hail we saw.
Overall, great fun chasing with Adam, and a great start to the 2012 season with a rotating mothership supercell and some fun lightning!
NOTE: View larger pictures (even full screen) using the option links in the lower right of the gallery below.
2012 First Chase - Sterling Supercell & Lightning