Storm Chase Safari Day 5

With no supercells in the forecast but several smaller storms to choose from we decided to head southwest out of Abilene towards Fort Stockton and then see what our options were. Along the way we saw field upon field with cacti blooming and had to stop for a bit to work the scene.

_1xl2210

Once we reached Fort Stockton, we stopped to evaluate our options. Brian & Chris thought that we had better chances of severe weather if we headed farther southwest so, off we went. A storm began to develop and as we passed through it we were inundated with rain. As we came out of the rain storm a beautiful double rainbow appeared for a few short minutes.

_1xl2421

We managed to keep ahead of the storm (just barely), stopping to photograph lightning along the way. When the air got cooler and the hail began to fall we would jump back in the van and move up the road a bit more. We were able to make several stops before the lightning began to let up. We could hear a strange rumbling sound which Brian and Chris told us was hail in the sky. We later learned that hailstones from the size of quarters up to the size of softballs had been produced by the storm.

_1xl2571

By this time we were within 100 miles of Big Bend National Park so we decided to head there for the night so we could enjoy the park for a few hours the next morning. There was a special treat in store for us for dinner at the Starlight Theater where we had an excellent meal and one last photo opportunity. The restaurant was very cool and the staff was gracious enough to let us bring our camera in and photograph. I knew exactly how I was going to finish the image before I even clicked the first frame. I did a nine frame bracket selecting the images two stops apart. After blending them in Photomatix, I then went into Photoshop where I added my own special effects to finish the image off.

starlight

I forgot to look at the mileage but, I know we covered well over 400 miles today. I can hardly wait to explore Big Bend NP tomorrow morning before heading out to find more severe weather. And while we did not find a supercell we certainly had a variety of photo opportunities in our path.

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