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Rolling thunder on the Great Plains

Work and life’s commitments don’t allow me to storm chase near as often as I would like. However, every now and then, I get lucky and Mother Nature brings a storm right to me. Such was the case this past Friday as I went for a photo drive after work.

A nice little thunderstorm popped up and while the storm itself wasn’t anything extraordinary, it did make for a very pretty scene. This same storm cell would go on to intensify and drop hail up to an inch in diameter only about 10 miles from where this picture was taken.

A thunderstorm rolls across the plains northeast of Denver, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

A thunderstorm rolls across the plains northeast of Denver, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

The Mile High City capped with clouds

While it does look kind of cool, thankfully this isn’t typical for Denver. Those of us that live here are used to seeing far more sun and warmth this time of year.

A late season storm brought cold, a lot of rain and a bit of snow to the Colorado Front Range this past week. Just to the west in the mountains they were measuring the snowfall in feet. It was a bit of a shock to the system of residents.

In reality, snow in May is not that unusual although this system was stronger that normal for this late in the season. Certainly I hope we are done with the white stuff for the season but Denver’s latest snowfall in history occurred on June 12, 1947 so you just never know.

Denver, Colorado sits under a layer of clouds after a late season snowstorm blanketed the area and the nearby Rocky Mountains in snow.  (© Tony’s Takes)

Denver, Colorado sits under a layer of clouds after a late season snowstorm blanketed the area and the nearby Rocky Mountains in snow. (© Tony’s Takes)

Evening sky turns into a rainbow of colors

I was expecting a typically gorgeous Colorado sunset on this day not long ago but it was the pre-show about a half hour before that was the best part. Iridescent clouds appeared and turned the sky into a rainbow of colors. It was an awesome one seen from my backyard.

Cloud iridescence is caused by clouds (usually cirrus) that have small water droplets or ice crystals in them causing the light to be diffracted, or spread out. The phenomena is much like the rainbow colors seen with oil in water.

Scroll down to view the complete series.

Stunning iridescent clouds as the sun starts to set north of Denver, Colorado.  (© Tony’s Takes)

Stunning iridescent clouds as the sun starts to set north of Denver, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

Iridescent clouds create a rainbow sky

A very fun weather phenomena last week over the Denver metro area. Cloud iridescence is caused by clouds (usually cirrus) that have small water droplets or ice crystals in them causing the light to be diffracted, or spread out. The phenomena is much like the #rainbow colors seen with oil in water. Unfortunately I was out for a walk when this was happening and I only had my big wildlife lens so was unable to capture the overall scene.. Nevertheless, closeups show just how cool it was.

Iridescent clouds bring a rainbow of colors. (© Tony’s Takes)

Iridescent clouds bring a rainbow of colors. (© Tony’s Takes)

Iridescent clouds bring a rainbow of colors. (© Tony’s Takes)

Iridescent clouds bring a rainbow of colors. (© Tony’s Takes)

Iridescent clouds bring a rainbow of colors. (© Tony’s Takes)

Iridescent clouds bring a rainbow of colors. (© Tony’s Takes)

Fresh snow and fall colors

Taken back at the end of September from Boreas Pass not far from Breckenridge, Colorado. With the arrival of autumn the aspen trees were aglow and a snow the night before had coated the mountain peaks in a blanket of white.

The mountain in the background is the 13,829-foot high Mount Silverheels. While not one of the Centennial State’s famous fourteeners, it is a gorgeous, dominating peak with a fascinating story. The mountain is named after a dance hall girl from the nearby mining town of Buckskin Joe. Her real name is unknown but she earned her nickname due to the shoes she wore when she danced.

Legend has it that during a smallpox outbreak in 1861 she used her money to bring in doctors to fight the epidemic. She remained at the foot of the mountain while most other women and children fled to Denver. While she survived the smallpox, her face was scarred by the disease and she chose to remain isolated at her home at the foot of the mountain.

Buckskin Joe is now a ghost town and every now and then people report seeing a black veiled woman at the town’s cemetery placing flowers on the graves of those who died during the smallpox epidemic.

A snow covered Mount Silverheels lies in the background while fall colors line the foreground.  (© Tony’s Takes)

A snow covered Mount Silverheels lies in the background while fall colors line the foreground. (© Tony’s Takes)

Pit stop thunderstorm

On my recent trip to the northern Rockies, our first overnight stop was in northern Wyoming in the town of Kaycee. Soon after arriving as sunset grew close, thunderstorms started to build just to our east. This particular cell was quite beautiful as it was lit by the direct sunlight to the west and the shades or orange of the soon-to-come sunset. For a time it was severe warned as it was dropping golf ball sized hail – thankfully not until it was past us.

An evening thunderstorm rattles the Wyoming plains.  (© Tony’s Takes)

An evening thunderstorm rattles the Wyoming plains. (© Tony’s Takes)

Short but brilliant rainbow illuminates the Great Plains’ horizon

I have said it repeatedly and I will say it again: the plains of Colorado may be relatively flat but I will put the sights found there up against those of the higher terrain of the state any day of the week. This past Friday evening was another perfect example.

Thunderstorms passed nearby where we were camping and once past, the scene that unfolded was nothing short of extraordinary. Beautiful blue skies above with dramatic storm clouds below were punctuated by one of the brightest rainbows I have ever seen in my life. The multi-colored stream was not very tall but it was very wide and very bright.

My pictures of it truly don’t do it justice – it was nothing short of extraordinary.

A brilliant partial rainbow descends from a thunderstorm on Colorado's Great Plains.  (© Tony’s Takes)

A brilliant partial rainbow descends from a thunderstorm on Colorado’s Great Plains. (© Tony’s Takes)

Ominous skies on the Colorado plains

Ominous skies on the Colorado plains. Frustrating! I could have had a nice little backyard storm chase yesterday except my phone went for a swim the night before and was dead to the world. Without it, I would have had to chase incommunicado and without data and that would not have been smart or safe. However, I couldn’t resist at least taking a peek. 😉

These storm cells had passed over the north Denver metro area about a half hour before, dropping copious amounts of rain and hail. It was fun to get out and just stand underneath them and marvel at the power of Mother Nature.

Scroll down to view more of the images from the day’s storms.

Thunderstorms roll across the Colorado plains.  (© Tony’s Takes)

Thunderstorms roll across the Colorado plains. (© Tony’s Takes)

Oil pumpjack and Longs Peak on a bone chilling, frosty morning

This is a scene I have captured in the past but never on a morning quite like this one. Taken on January 10, an extraordinarily thick hoar frost and covered the entire area. In the background, a snow-covered 14,259 high Longs Peak is seen. Sunrise cast the entire scene in an amber glow. Temperatures were at only about 10 degrees so I opted to capture this image from the warmth of my truck.  😉

This image is available for purchase here.

An oil pumpjack on the frost-covered plains with a snow-covered Longs Peak in the background. (© Tony’s Takes)

An oil pumpjack on the frost-covered plains with a snow-covered Longs Peak in the background. (© Tony’s Takes)

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