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Thunderstorm

Panoramic nighttime lightning illuminated thunderstorm

Oh what a night! June 11, 2015 found me in far southeastern Colorado chasing storms. We chased this beast for a long ways and while it never did drop a tornado, it did give us some nice looks.

This image is taken after dark and those clouds are being lit up the intra-cloud lightning. It was an absolute non-stop light show.

If you look close, you can see a small town almost directly under the stormcell. It dropped baseball size hail and the straight-line winds downed powerlines.

Nighttime lightning illuminates the structure of a supercell thunderstorm in southeastern Colorado.  (© Tony’s Takes)

Nighttime lightning illuminates the structure of a supercell thunderstorm in southeastern Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

Sunset thunderstorm

Going back into the archives for this one to June 2012. On a tornado chase near Simla, Colorado. The chase did yield one funnel cloud directly overhead and then a very rain-wrapped, obscured twister on the ground. Unfortunately, we were too far away to get ourselves in position to get a good look at the tornado. This was taken not long after when we stopped to watch the impressive thunderstorm as it wound down and obscured the setting sun.

A thunderstorm winds down as the sun sets on the Colorado plains. (© Tony’s Takes)

A thunderstorm winds down as the sun sets on the Colorado plains. (© Tony’s Takes)

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)

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)

An electrified desert

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.

Lightning pops from a supercell thunderstorm in New Mexico. (© Tony’s Takes)

Lightning pops from a supercell thunderstorm in New Mexico. (© Tony’s Takes)

Severe thunderstorm rolls across the Colorado plains

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.

A severe thunderstorm rolls across the Colorado plains. (© Tony’s Takes)

A severe thunderstorm rolls across the Colorado plains. (© Tony’s Takes)

Foreboding clouds

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.

A supercell thunderstorm near Lamar, Colorado look particularly ominous as part of it lowers toward the ground. (© Tony’s Takes)

A supercell thunderstorm near Lamar, Colorado look particularly ominous as part of it lowers toward the ground. (© Tony’s Takes)

The stormy road ahead

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.

Scud clouds ahead of a thunderstorm pass over a New Mexico road.  (© Tony’s Takes)

Scud clouds ahead of a thunderstorm pass over a New Mexico road. (© Tony’s Takes)

Lightning illuminates a nocturnal beast

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.

A supercell thunderstorm in Colorado is illuminate at night by numerous lightning strikes.  (© Tony’s Takes)

A supercell thunderstorm in Colorado is illuminate at night by numerous lightning strikes. (© Tony’s Takes)