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.
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.
New Mexico is not a state that normally comes to mind when you think of spring severe weather. However, thunderstorms rolling across the high desert of the eastern part of the state can be quite impressive. With warm, moist air from the south clashing with cold air from the north, storms in the area are capable of generating large amounts of hail and become very electrified.
Such was the case with this storm in June 2015 near Tucumcari. With a surprisingly green desert below and a supercell thunderstorm above, the scene was dramatic. The heavy rain and hail at the storm’s core are seen in the distance while a bolt of lightning pops from the storm’s leading edge. As my son and I watched this storm, we could not help but be awed at the power and the beauty.
This beast of a storm had some incredibly cool clouds on its underside. The hail roar as it passed by was absolutely amazing and went on for 20 minutes straight.
Hail roar is oftentimes mistaken for thunder but is in fact the rumbling sound of hailstones cycling up and down within the storms structure and smashing into each other. It usually sounds like a low rumble, generally constant in tone and volume.
Seeing a storm like this is cool; hearing it adds to the excitement and drama.
Whether they spawn a tornado or not, the clouds of a supercell thunderstorm are a thing of beauty to me. The overall structure can be extraordinary and its scale immense or, as in this picture, one part of it can show the drama on a finer level.
Here, a lowering in the storm’s structure draws your eye as it passes over a field. It is an intense scene, one which can’t help but make you wonder if a twister isn’t to follow soon (unfortunately it did not). Image taken near Lamar, Colorado on June 11, 2015.
Scud clouds from a severe thunderstorm in New Mexico loom ominously over a road in the high desert. Most folks wouldn’t think of the Land of Enchantment as a place to go to view severe weather. However the state does see impressive thunderstorms and the unique landscape provides for some very picturesque scenes.
We caught up to this storm not long after it dropped copious amounts of hail on Interstate 25. As it moved into less well-traveled areas, it became quite electrified and ominous.
Severe thunderstorms can be intimidating enough during broad daylight. Let the sun set and the 75mph winds, tennis ball size hail, and tornado warnings can be downright scary for those in the storm’s path.
Normally you wouldn’t see much of the storm – or perhaps a brief glimpse. However in this case, the lightning was letting loose with multiple flashes per second. Enough in fact that in a 3 second exposure, virtually the entire structure of this massive supercell thunderstorm is seen.
Watching it was like staring at a strobe light and some of my fellow storm chasers even remarked that it made them feel disoriented. Notice how the storm absolutely dwarfs the grain elevator below. Taken near Springfield, Colorado on June 11, 2015.
I did my best to provide encouragement and support but it just wasn’t meant to be. The funnel tried, really tried, but it just couldn’t get its act together to become a tornado in western Nebraska last week. 😉
BTW, notice the hawk that happened to photobomb this pic toward the top right.
These are probably some of the coolest clouds you can ever see. Comprised mostly of ice, they form under the anvil of supercell thunderstorms and oftentimes are a sign of severe weather to come. These particular clouds were underneath a storm that was approaching Lamar, Colorado last Thursday, June 11, 2015. The storm brought powerful winds and hail 2 1/2 inches in diameter.
Taken yesterday evening, this beast of a storm was ripping through west Texas near the town of Littlefield. As it intensified, it dropped tennis ball size hail and winds of 75mph. The winds kicked up dirt and dust creating almost haboob-like conditions.
Two minutes after this picture was taken, visibility dropped to 30 feet or less. It was an amazing experience, if maybe a bit disconcerting.