May 8, 2017 West Denver Hailstorm

Denver and the entire Eastern part of the state was under the gun for potential severe weather on Monday afternoon; the first severe day of the year.  There was a tornado warned storm around Agate on the Palmer Divide and the radar definitely showed a couplet, but only sustained funnels were reported by chasers on the ground.  The main threat was hail; big hail and lots of hail, and straight line winds.

I went out east of Denver to start, took a conference call for work while I was watching the major hailstorm wreck havoc over Denver.  After my call, I headed east until I eventually punched through the line of cells and was able to see the storms on the east side.  Watched several cells get close and then headed home.  Although there was a lot of lightning, I was nearly to Kansas and will wait until another day to catch the nighttime action closer to home!

Denver hailstorm May 8, 2017

May 8th, 2017 Denver Hailstorm taken just east of DIA.

Sitting at DIA looking west was the damaging hailstorm, looking east was this smaller storm cell.

Denver hailstorm

Planes were landing, must have been an incredible view from the left window seats!

Scud cloud that looked suspicious.


Love the colors at deep dusk. This is near Cope as the hail core of this storm was merely a cornfield away! Note the in-cloud lightning.

Great cloud structure and some in-cloud lightning

Love the rain and clouds!

Cloud to Ground lightning inside the rain, barely visible. The storm was looking pretty evil and I took off after this picture.

August 11 2015 Aurora Funnel Cloud

For some reason early this morning I felt I had to take my camera to work. I wasn’t sure why I felt that way, but I didn’t deny my intuition and I put it in the car with me. I figured I’d see a wild animal or something on the way in.

So, I’m working and end up having meetings solid all afternoon. Ending time has come and gone and I’m officially working late again. Then all of a sudden every phone in cube-land went off at the same time. Tornado warning. Managers yelling at folks to get in the stairwell and inner conference rooms. Of course, I’m looking out the window and checking my resources on the phone trying to determine where the threat is. No velocity couplet on radar, probably a landspout as this area of Colorado is notorious for non-supercell tornadoes. Some random manager (not sure whom) grabs me and tells me I’m in danger and I have to get into the shelter. So I dart away, down the stairs past a ton of folks, and onto the top of the parking garage, on my way grabbing the camera from the car.

Tornado warning states that it was a “Public spotted tornado” which typically means pretty much anything; I understand the concern because clouds can look really angry! (many “public” reports are incorrect). But social media shows some nice funnel cloud pictures. Cool! The subsequent warning states that Weather Spotters see a funnel cloud.

The rain stops falling (mostly) and the lightning moves away, so I venture out on the top floor of the parking garage and then I see the funnel, just northeast of work. My co-worker texts me asking me where the heck I was at, I told him on the top of the parking garage and to come join me. He ended up being just in time to see his first funnel cloud of his life! I vividly still remember that day for me, I was 6, changed my life.

Aurora Funnel Cloud Aurora Funnel Cloud Aurora Funnel Cloud Aurora Funnel Cloud Aurora Funnel Cloud Aurora Funnel Cloud

Monsoon Lightning Begins

The monsoon is picking up, several weeks later than normal, but it is here. Woke up to some thunder so I checked out the radar and sky and decided to take a small drive. Ended up a few blocks away from the house and was able to capture some nice lightning. The storm down SE of us was going bonkers with lightning, strobe light style, so I ended up driving south a ways to an overlook and watched. There were no bolts visible from my vantage point (the storm was 40 miles away) so I just sat in awe for a while and then headed home. Tomorrow night should be another good night, and we have the Perseids upcoming too, so probably will be lacking a bit on sleep this week!









Early Season Palmer Divide Lightning

Was sitting down at the computer after the kids were tucked in expecting to do some armchair chasing action with the upper air trough and severe weather digging into the plains states tonight, and started hearing some pellets hit the windows of the house–it was graupel coming down. Graupel is pellets of snow/ice that is much smaller than hail which is not unusual for this time of year. About ten minutes later the first bolt of lightning lit up the house!

Larkspur Colorado Lightning

One of the first bolts I caught, only about 8 or so bolts left in the storm before it was over…

I wasn’t prepared for this like I usually am during the monsoonal flow in late July/early August, so I jumped into high gear and grabbed the tripod and camera and got everything ready. Focus is always a problem with the DSLR but I pointed it at a neighbor’s houselight (I usually curse this light because it is on all night, every night of the year, and makes watching meteorite showers frustrating) but tonight it seemed to have a purpose to get me a good focus as I changed the lens to manual focus mode. As you may know focusing lightning can be very difficult!

I then jumped out on the porch hoping for some visible bolts not obstructed by the clouds and immediately the bolts were flying over head. Being on a porch with lightning this close is extremely dangerous (by definition overhead is very close) so I quickly put the camera on autopilot and headed back to the safety inside.

Larkspur Colorado Lightning

Mother Nature’s show lasted no more than 15 minutes and was very localized; as luck would have it many of the bolts were in the least obstructed view from my porch! Nice! Captured several good shots making me even more excited for this upcoming chase season!


Palmer Divide Supercells and Lightning

NOTE:  As always, click the images for full HD size…

June 5, 2014:  It’s been a somewhat slow chase season thus far, which by most people’s opinion is a great thing. Despite that, early June always has good storms to look forward to here in the Front Range of Colorado. The Storm Prediction Center issued a slight risk and a Severe Thunderstorm Watch over the Front Range. Adam Boggs once again was able to meet up and we decided to chase. The only storm that looked interesting was coming out of SE Aurora and Adam and I started near Bennett on this storm.

The storm was initially heading SE but soon took on a more southern route and followed I-70 on its western side and then went south and east of Limon. We chased through Arapahoe and into Elbert counties and ended up getting in front of the storm near Hwy 24.

Just as we got in front (South) of the storm near Simla

Just as we got in front (South) of the storm near Simla

Continuing south we zig-zagged in front of this storm staying just minutes outside of the initial hail and right in the gust front.

Driving in the gust front we were in many dust storms!

Driving in the gust front we were in many dust situations like this that crossed the road in front of us!

Out in front we saw several “gustnados”, or dust devils created by the gust front of the storm; plus there were several times that we were driving in the dust storm, which was moving briskly at about 40-45 mph.  There were some interesting cloud formations but given we were so close to the core of the storm it was hard to view the more global structure of the storm.

We were chased by the hail and wind from this storm all day...

We were chased by the hail and wind from this storm all day…

Eventually we hit Hwy 71 and gave up on this storm as we didn’t want to end up in Kansas.  The storm eventually produced a tornado about an hour after we left it.

Thick rainbow action...

Thick rainbow action…

There were new storms firing and we decided to head into Limon for some dinner and then chase whatever looked good; hoping to eventually get some nice dusk/nighttime lightning shots heading back to Bennett where Adam had dropped off his car.  The storm that put out 1″ hail near Parker was heading our way but was about an hour out.

This storm as it approached had neat structure so we watched it until it dissipated.

New cell as it approached - likely over Rush

New cell as it approached – likely over Rush






Hail finally passed over us; nickel sized was the largest.

Hail finally passed over us; nickel sized was the largest.

We then headed home via Hwy 86 and put ourselves in front of the 2nd to last line of storms for the night.  We caught some spikes; but most of the light show was in the clouds.

Anvil crawler over the Palmer Divide

Anvil crawler over the Palmer Divide

ElbertStormJune5-3510 ElbertStormJune5-3513 ElbertStormJune5-3517 ElbertStormJune5-3531

Finally on the way home after departing ways with Adam, there was a nice line of storms from SW Denver down through what looked like Woodland Park.  The Anvil Crawlers over SW Denver were awesome.  Once I got home I realized that we could get some action here; so I started downloading photos and keeping an eye on the sky.  About 12:30am the last storm came just north of us and I was able to catch some of the spikes just north of us by several miles.  These were really bright and took some adjustment to get photographed (the first ones were all washed out until I fine tuned the aperture of the camera); and like the storms earlier in the evening most of the strikes were in the cloud.

I’m trying out some new open exposure “by hand” techniques sitting in the protection of the car.  ElbertStormJune5-3552 ElbertStormJune5-3557  ElbertStormJune5-3571 ElbertStormJune5-3594


Overall, a very fun chase day!

Awesome Earth’s Wind Interactive Map

I have been loving this site; shows when the weather systems are coming into the area and how they get started out in the Pacific! It’s interactive too, just click on the word “Earth” or drag your mouse around on it!  Look at surface winds or choose your height if you prefer upper air disturbances!

What is great is I can look at this one view and know when the storm chasing will likely be good and non-existent.  Gives me a really quick look at the next 4-5 days, and helps me determine when further research is necessary!

July 13, 2011 Parker Lightning Show

UPDATE: July 2012. I did some updates to WordPress and some older posts using an obsolete gallery program seems to not be working; so I am reposting these pictures, which are some of my favorites, a bit larger in resolution this time.  Seems appropriate day to repost nature’s fireworks since most 4th of July fireworks displays near here have been cancelled…

We were in a Severe Thunderstorm watch this afternoon but as I was chasing all the storms were dead before they got 30 miles east of the foothills, but there was heavy rain, slow moving storms and I knew after dark it would be a great lightning show. I triangulated a great place between a couple of storms and then drove to find a good overlook to the northern storm which was pumping out some great lightning. I had to finally leave once the bolts were a little too close for comfort, but I had a great 30-45 minute session without rain!

The bolts were pretty close so I was shooting on a tripod while safely in the car. The intensity of the bolts were incredible, so it took a little time to a) get the focus set and b) get the aperture setting adjusted–typically I just hit the lowest f-stop; these were all around f5, ISO 400, 42mm. I let it run at 10 second exposures and about every couple of minutes got a bolt!

The bolts were consistently across the valley (I should do a stack in Photoshop…hmmm) but once the storm on my west crept up I started getting rain and the bolts were coming my way so I decided to call it a night.

tn_2011-ParkerLightning-2-2 tn_2011-ParkerLightning-2-3 tn_2011-ParkerLightning-1393 tn_2011-ParkerLightning-1394 tn_2011-ParkerLightning-1396 tn_2011-ParkerLightning-1400 tn_2011-ParkerLightning-1404 tn_2011-ParkerLightning-1414 tn_2011-ParkerLightning-1416 tn_2011-ParkerLightning-1419 tn_2011-ParkerLightning-1422 tn_2011-ParkerLightning-1429 tn_2011-ParkerLightning-1433 tn_2011-ParkerLightning-1436 tn_2011-ParkerLightning-1451 tn_2011-ParkerLightning-1460 tn_2011-ParkerLightning-1466 tn_2011-ParkerLightning-1477 tn_2011-ParkerLightning-1483 tn_2011-ParkerLightning-1499 tn_2011-ParkerLightning-1500 tn_2011-ParkerLightning-1504 tn_2011-ParkerLightning-1543

05-28-2013: Last Chance Adventure

I’ve been wanting to get out and chase for a while now.  Today was looking like the best day I could go out this week, but the action appeared to be heading into the Nebraska Panhandle and I just didn’t want to make that drive for what appeared to be a mediocre risk.  After pondering if I should go out or not, at about 2:30pm I decided to call it off for the day; unless by some lucky reason I could find a close to home cell.

About 3pm I looked at the obs and radar and noticed a small set of cells forming just east of Colorado Springs.  Storm motion would take these cells NE and I figured I could intercept them about Limon.  As they worked their way out on the plains the dew points and shear would get better, so I figured why not; if nothing else it would shake the rust off and ensure all the equipment is still working.  So I headed out with the destination between Limon and Last Chance on Hwy 71.

The storm was moving fairly slow and I was able to take some county roads and check out the storm pass slowly by from a nice vantage point on the ridge that Hwy 71 follows.  The wind farm was directly to my SE.  I ended up moving about a mile south of Last Chance to catch up to the storm for dusk lightning shots.  The storm was fizzling out so I left it about 9:15.  About 250 miles, nearly 8 hours.  Not bad for the first chase of 2013!


Books I’ve read in the last couple years…

With a 50 minute (minimum) commute each way to work, I have an opportunity to listen to audiobooks like I’ve never had before. Thus I was able to read more books in 2010 than pretty much my whole life combined! Some of the books go back to the latter months of 2009; I don’t remember exactly when I read which books; but I wanted to include them all so I didn’t forget about them!

Dan Brown Books:

Dan Brown - Angels and Demons Dan Brown - DaVinci Code Dan Brown - Digital Fortress Dan Brown -The Lost Symbol Dan Brown - Deception Point

As anyone who has read Dan Brown knows, he packs a lot of excitement into his books and also presents very interesting “historical” perspective (although how much is actual history is masked and center of heated debate! Awesome!) Ask your pastor to argue this point :). I really like these books; especially Angels and Demons and The Lost Symbol. I actually really appreciate the “conspiracy theory” angle that Dan writes from as I believe it inspires some interesting soul searching and can challenge much of the basis of what people believe, regardless of what you believe! I highly recommend any of these books!

Terry Goodkind Sword of Truth Series Books:

Terry Goodkind - Wizards First Rule Terry Goodkind - Stone of Tears Terry Goodkind - Blood of the Fold Terry Goodkind - Debt of Bones
Terry Goodkind - Temple Of The Winds Terry Goodkind - Soul Of The Fire Terry Goodkind - Faith of the Fallen Terry Goodkind - The Pillars Of Creation Terry Goodkind - Naked Empire
Terry Goodkind - Chainfire Terry Goodkind - Phantom Terry Goodkind - Confessor Terry Goodkind - The Law of Nines

I have finally finished off this series, a total of 12 books (so far). These are LONG books, over 6000 pages for the books listed above. For those that are unfamiliar with this fantasy series, a good synopsis of the series and each book can be found via Wikipedia. I really like Terry Goodkind’s writing style; the story offers a level of detail that keeps coming back and made me wonder how much time he spent mapping out all the fine details prior to writing the book(s); it all made sense and was quite intricate at times. He also had nice twist and turns in the story to keep things interesting.

I also watched the made-for-TV series based on these books (done by Sam Raimi which was awesome) called Legend of the Seeker which aired for two seasons. I actually discovered the TV series 2 weeks before it was completed; I was channel surfing and stopped on the fantasy-based show and recognized the story right away (although it was significantly different that the books, especially season 2, but still fun to watch). My kids loved it!

The Law of Nines books wasn’t part of this series, but definitely was linked to the series which was cool.

C.J. Box Books:

C.J. Box - Blue Heaven C.J. Box - Blood Trail C.J. Box - Below Zero C.J. Box - Free Fire C.J. Box - In Plain Sight
C.J. Box - Open Season C.J. Box - Out Of Range C.J. Box - Three Weeks to Say Goodbye C.J. Box - No Where To Run C.J. Box - Cold Wind

My folks bought me Blood Trail for Christmas as they thought I’d like it. I did, very much. C.J. Box is a writer out of Wyoming that writes rural thrillers. Blood Trail is one of the Joe Pickett series, much like Dan Brown always having Robert Langdon as the main protagonist. Joe Pickett is a Game Warden that get caught up in murders and other thrilling adventures. Blue Heaven was a stand alone book (not in the Pickett series) based on two kids that witness a murder and then have to run for their lives. Below Zero is about a environmental nut and Chicago mobster who kidnap a girl and take her along for their environmental redemption spree! I look forward to reading more C.J. Box this year!

Other Authors:

Dan Suarez - Daemon Thomas Hager - The Demon Under The Microscope Bill Maher - When you ride ALONE you ride with bin Laden Steve Grody - Graffiti L.A. Amal Naj - Peppers: A Story of Hot Pursuits Tipping Point
Found Magazine #3 Found Magazine #4 Found Magazine #5 Martin Dugard - Last Voyage of Columbus Markus Zusak - The Book Thief Vince Flynn - Pursuit of Honor

Daemon by Dan Suarez is a cyber thriller about a video game tycoon that upon his death sends the video game objects into the real world. Erin read it too and said it is guy’s book; not much to offer from a girl’s perspective; and I guess I can see this in a couple of the scenes of the book; but overall I think this was a fun cyber-thriller!

The Demon Under the Microscope I really enjoyed as it talked about the drug industry before and during the invent of Sulfa anti-biotic drugs. This was a wonderful historical record of how medicine truly changed the world! Likewise The Last Voyage of Columbus was a great insight on what being a pioneer was all about!

My friend Natalie said I had to read the Book Thief and it was a wonderful book accounting the life in Nazi Germany of a adopted girl who had hard luck worse than anyone I know through hiding a Jew and learning to read while facing what was going on in Nazi Germany. A wonderful book!

Bill Maher’s book I have to admit I bought for the cover…I like propaganda and that was a spoof on a very popular poster! The book is quite good; well thought out and in the typical Bill Maher style.

Graffiti L.A. is a very comprehensive history of Graffiti in L.A. Lots of wonderful pictures as well.

Found Magazine is awesome; my sister gave me this for Christmas. These books are just found letters and such that people send to this magazine and they publish them. I have submitted some stuff I’ve found to the magazine; but nothing has been published as of yet.

The Peppers book was great as it told the history of cultivation of Peppers, search for peppers roots and where they came from, modern pepper genetics, and how Tasbasco company was lame early on in defeating its competition with politics rather than other means.

Weather Books:

Mike Nelson - Colorado Weather Almanac Mark Svenvold - Big Weather Tornadoes of the US Storm Chaser Weather
Cloud Study Adventures in Tornado Alley

Mike Nelson’s Colorado Weather Almanac is an absolute must read for anyone interested in weather, especially Colorado weather. After reading the book you can understand how the weather guys often get the weather forecast completely wrong!

Tornadoes of the United States by Snowden D Flora is from 1958 (2nd printing) and is a great look at Tornadoes back when we knew nearly nothing about them. Great statistics and information about outbreaks in the first half of the 20th century. I’m currently reading his book Hail Storms of the United States.

Cloud Study is a neat old book reprinted in 1960 that talks about clouds and their formation. This has some great older photos and is a fun read.

Weather is an awesome coffee table book; I bought this at the National Storm Chaser Conference back in 2009 with the Hunt for the Red Sprite DVD. Adventures in Tornado Alley has wonderful pictures from Nebraska storm chaser Mike Hollingshead and is the UK version (Hardback was not available here in the US). Jim Reed’s book is also great and full of wonderful photographs.

Nancy Mathis book has a lot of information about tornado research pioneer Ted Fujita and details the F5 Moore OK tornado from May 3, 1999.

Rockhounding Books:

Richard M. Pearl - Colorado Gem Trails and Mineral Guide Richard M. Pearl - Colorado Gem Trails and Mineral Guide Revised Stephen M Voynick - Colorado Rockhounding Kirk Johnson - Cruisin The Fossil Freeway James R. Mitchell - Gem Trails of Colorado
William Cappele - Rockhounding Colorado William and Cora Cappele - Rockhounding Colorado Revised William Cappele - The Rockhounds Guide to Colorado Judy Hall - The Crystal Bible Drills and Mills

Between my dad and myself we were able to pick up many rockhounding books, a couple had several editions. It was nice to read the older editions as there sometimes was information available that was not available in the newer editions. The best guide of the lot was Voynicks Rockhounding Colorado, although I enjoyed all of them.

Kirk Johnson’s book Cruisin’ the Fossil Freeway was a great book joining him on a “road trip” around the high plains in search of fossils. Great illustrations too.

I read several other mining and colorado rock books but don’t remember the names; I believe my dad has these so perhaps someday I’ll add them to the list.

Music Books:

Siouxsie: The Authorised Biography M. Fish and D. Hallbery - Cabaret Voltaire: The Art of the Sixth Sense Trevor Pinch and Frank Trocco - Analog Days Albert Glinsky - Theremin: Ether Music and Espionage Freddy Fresh presents The Rap Records Handbook The Man Called Cash When Giants Walked the Earth

Analog Days was a wonderful book taking a look at the early days of Robert Moog and the invention of his synthesizer. It followed the business describing the other companies and competition and gave an overall wonderful history of the evolution of Analog Synthesizers.

Theremin was an incredible book detailing the life of a Russian spy masked by very early electronic music! A must read for anyone interested in propaganda and electronic music!

The Cabaret Voltaire and Siouxsie biographies were a great look into the early days of these influential bands in the late 70’s England!

I was introduced to Freddy Fresh on his record label Analog Records. This was harder edged analog acid techno from the early 90s! He was an avid collector (like me) of analog synthesizers and modulars and I loved his work. I didn’t realize until reading through this guide that he was so versed in early hip-hop/rap music. Definitely a cool guide to records that started the genre.

That’s about it; and that’s a bunch of books; especially for me!