Late Night Lightning

Been awhile since I have experienced late night lightning, but I was awake and in luck tonight, Aug 28th, 2016.  We had taken a trip to the Arkansas River valley in southern Colorado to buy Pueblo peppers and visit the state fair where my kids had participated at the State level in 4-H earlier in the week.  After a fun but long day we came home and I started peeling the skins off of our many bushels of peppers; this usually goes well into the night!  Just as I was finishing bushel #1, there were flashes in the sky; at first I thought it was a car going by but to my delight a storm was passing by to our south.

The insects were having a symphony in the front yard and the only man-made noise was a train passing by a 1/2 mile or so away (lots of squeaks and metal on metal scrapes) so I recorded some of the ambience while enjoying it.  Meanwhile the lightning was becoming more frequent, so i jumped in the car and headed for vistas out of the trees.  I ended up driving about 5 miles south of Larkspur and sat on top of a hill overlooking the Spruce Meadows Open Space at Greenland and watched the show.

I enjoy taking pictures of lightning with power lines, and these were carrying a lot of electricity so I figured it would be perfect foreground for lightning shots.  Given it was raining and the lightning was fairly close, I decided to shoot from within the truck.  I have been getting better at holding the camera fairly steady with the iris open, these were 6 second shots at ISO 800, f/11, focus at infinity.  I was using a wide angle lens.

To remove the rain from the windshield I need to have the wipers on; sometimes there are drops in the shot but that goes with the territory; not much I can do about that given it is raining.  Luckily the lightning is so quick and otherwise it is dark (no light) so most of the shots you don’t see the wipers.  Then it is just a waiting game, reviewing the pictures to ensure the field of view is what is expected.  Unfortunately the lightning was infrequent, about 90 seconds apart, so I got a lot of black pictures I had to delete later.

As always, click on the photo for a larger size.

Lightning

Interesting placement of the bolt and the tower, I wish I could say it was planned, but nothing about that shot was planned; all luck…and being in the right place at the right time!

Lots o lightning

Lots going on in this shot, it was very bright!

Anvil Crawler Lightning

One of the last anvil crawler style bolts of the evening, just before midnight; the last one was massive (there was about 5 minutes between it and the previous) and it was so bright and long that I moved the camera (I have to admit I was getting tired and it startled me) and the picture was blurred/jittery.

Upward Streamer Lightning

Close-up of the previous shot (lower right) showing three upward streamers, the right most one got the return strike but was a bit off from the original streamer (or there were 4).

Colorado Lightning

If only we could harness that…looks like it almost tapped us!

b&w lightning photo

Cool black and white shot, south Douglas County Colorado, Aug 28th about 11:30pm.

Larkspur Tornado Warning – 2nd in 3 days

Today I decided to hit the Pikes Peak Gem and Mineral Show at the Western Mining Museum.  I packed my storm chase gear as it was supposed to be a good southern Colorado chase day and since I was in the Black Forest area I could be in good position to commence a chase.

After enjoying the show I was leaving when I got a call from my mom, who always is great at keeping me updated on news and events since I don’t watch TV or listen to the radio.  She had called to tell me that Larkspur was Tornado Warned!  I flipped on the Baron Mobile Threat Net and the NOAA Weather Radio to get caught up on the weather as I raced towards Larkspur.  As I crested Monument Hill I could see that there was something sinister brewing just north and I was excited to chase as I know all the back roads in the area!

About 1pm I took these pictures from the car as I was driving in the Greenland area. This storm stretched from what appeared to be Castle Rock nearly down to Monument.

NOTE:  As always, click the image for a HD full size version…

Looking west from Greenland about 1pm

Looking NW from Greenland about 1pm

Looking North towards Larkspur at about 1pm

Looking west from Greenland at about 1pm

Traffic was starting to get gnarled up because of the heavy rain just north of the Larkspur exit; and people were freaking out driving worse than storm chasers do, that’s a first!  LOL! The underpass of the Larkspur exit was completely blocked by people wanting to get out of the hail (it hardly started raining yet), luckily I was headed east to get ahead of the storm as it was coming directly my way–leaving the mass chaos in the dust.

Looking north about 4 miles east of Larkspur

Looking north about 4 miles NE of Larkspur

Looking SW in the general direction of where the tornado was reported 5 Miles NE of Palmer Lake.  This was about 10 minutes after the report but a funnel appears to be visible.

Looking SW in the general direction of where the tornado was reported 5 Miles NE of Palmer Lake. This was about 10 minutes after the report but a funnel appears to be visible.

Near Hwy 83, while flirting with the rain and hail of the northern storm, I got overtaken by the SE drifting storm several times and I spent the next 30 minutes or so getting out in front of the line of storms drifting east; many with tornado warnings on them.  The storm to the NE of me near Elizabeth had some nice structure (and was certainly ruining what was left of the county rodeo).  The Lake George tornadic storm was also cresting the Rampart Range too and looked nice; so I decided to split the two and be available to jump on either storm…I was nearly 1/2 way between Hwy 24 and Hwy 86.

6/8/2014.  Cool structure as the northern storm passed Elizabeth.

6/8/2014. Cool inflow structure as the northern storm passed Elizabeth.

6/8/2014.  Cool structure as the northern storm passed Elizabeth.

6/8/2014. Northern storm as it passed Elizabeth.

6/8/2014.  Cool structure as the northern storm was near Kiowa.

6/8/2014. Cool structure as the northern storm was near Kiowa.

6/8/2014.  Cool structure as the northern storm was near Kiowa.

6/8/2014. The southern storm was also looking good and went tornado warned about this time.

After I headed east of Elbert, I had to make a decision, catch up to the storm to my NE (about 20 miles as a bird flies) or get south and play the southern line of storms.  Since I was planning it to be a southern Colorado day anyway, and because I was a good 30 minutes ahead of those storms, I chose the southern storms and I headed south towards Simla.  The roads south of here are good; but not great and like any dirt road it sucks in the hail and heavy rain; so I decided I was going to play this line of storms and then punch the core and head home as there was a big line forming and the severe potential appeared to be dwindling.

6/8/2014.  This cell SW of Simla had many interesting shapes in the 10 minutes I watched it.

6/8/2014. This cell SW of Simla had many interesting shapes in the 10 minutes I watched it.

6/8/2014.  This cell SW of Simla had many interesting shapes in the 10 minutes I watched it.

6/8/2014. This cell SW of Simla had many interesting shapes in the 10 minutes I watched it.

6/8/2014.  South of Matheson I saw what looked to be a weak tornado; but before I could catch up to it the rain and hail overtook us both.

6/8/2014. South of Matheson I saw what looked to be a weak tornado or more likely gustnado; but before I could catch up to it the rain and hail overtook us both.

6/8/2014.  South of Matheson I saw what looked to be a weak tornado; but before I could catch up to it the rain and hail overtook us both.

6/8/2014. South of Matheson I saw what looked to be a weak tornado; but before I could catch up to it the rain and hail overtook us both.

6/8/2014.  South of Matheson I saw what looked to be a weak tornado; but before I could catch up to it the rain and hail overtook us both.

6/8/2014. South of Matheson I saw what looked to be a weak tornado; but before I could catch up to it the rain and hail overtook us both.

Given I saw no funnel or condensation tube, I’m going to chalk this up to a gustnado, but definitely lots of dirt and rotation on the ground!

There were two warnings today for Larkspur area..

NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DENVER CO
1236 PM MDT SUN JUN 8 2014

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN DENVER HAS ISSUED A

* TORNADO WARNING FOR…
CENTRAL DOUGLAS COUNTY IN NORTHEAST COLORADO…

* UNTIL 100 PM MDT

* AT 1235 PM MDT…A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM CAPABLE OF PRODUCING A
TORNADO WAS LOCATED NEAR SPRUCEWOOD…OR 25 MILES SOUTH OF
DENVER…MOVING EAST AT 10 MPH.

HAZARD…TORNADO AND QUARTER SIZE HAIL.

SOURCE…RADAR INDICATED ROTATION.

* LOCATIONS IMPACTED INCLUDE…
CASTLE ROCK…ROXBOROUGH PARK…LARKSPUR…DEVILS HEAD…
SPRUCEWOOD…PERRY PARK AND SEDALIA.

NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DENVER CO
109 PM MDT SUN JUN 8 2014

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN DENVER HAS ISSUED A

* TORNADO WARNING FOR…
SOUTHEASTERN DOUGLAS COUNTY IN NORTHEAST COLORADO…

* UNTIL 145 PM MDT

* AT 109 PM MDT…A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM CAPABLE OF PRODUCING A
TORNADO WAS LOCATED 7 MILES NORTHEAST OF LARKSPUR…OR 29 MILES
NORTH OF COLORADO SPRINGS…MOVING EAST AT 20 MPH.

HAZARD…TORNADO AND HALF DOLLAR SIZE HAIL.

SOURCE…RADAR INDICATED ROTATION.

* LOCATIONS IMPACTED INCLUDE…
CASTLE ROCK…LARKSPUR…FRANKTOWN…GREENLAND…PERRY PARK AND THE
PINERY.