Storm Chase Safari Day 3

Once again the forecast for severe weather was not great today but, it is looking better for tomorrow down in the Texas plains. So, off we went traveling back through Kansas, the Nebraska panhandle and on to Texas. We stopped along the way to photograph some interesting cloud formations. We spotted some pileus clouds, the soft caps on top of the cumulus clouds (A layer of cloud sometimes seen capping a cumulus cloud. The pileus layer forms when the cumulus cloud pushes a moist layer of air above it upwards, causing condensation in this layer. Eventually, the cumulus will grow into and penetrate the pileus cloud, after which the pileus may remain as a cloud skirt around the cumulus.


There is alot of what I call “drive by shooting” when storm chasing as there simply is not time to stop for every photo opportunity if you want to keep up with the big weather. I saw a small cluster of trees up ahead with beautiful light skimming across the wheat fields in the foreground and waited to shoot until the ominous clouds were directly above the trees.


As the day began to fade into evening, we were treated to a huge shelf cloud stretching across the sky that had a great band of hail (the turquoise layer). Luckily it was slow moving and we actully had the chance to photograph, then jump in the van and move ahead of it and photograph again.


And finally the spell was broken when we had the chance to photograph lightning.


With about 100 miles left of our 600+ mile drive we headed towards Shamrock, TX and were treated to a light show the entire way. Unfortunately, the lightning was embedded in the clouds or we would have stopped to photograph it but, it was still amazing to see the sky lighting up like a stroboscopic show, pulsing constantly, for a couple of hours.

Images captures with Nikon D3X, AF-S 24-70mm, AF-S 14-24mm on Lexar digital media