Storm Chase Safari Day 6

A typical day of storm chasing begins with sunny blue skies and no indication of what lies in store for later the afternoon. That’s why we begin each day with an orientation where we view the different climatic sites to see what the afternoon has in store. Once we have an idea of where the weather patterns are flowing we begin to head in the general direction keeping an eye on the radar as we go.
We had already anticipated storms over to the west part of Texas and were in Big Bend so we didn’t have far to go to get in position so we did a little sight seeing. I love the character of small towns and there was plenty of that to be found.

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We stopped to check out the wildlife along the way. We saw coyotes, a rattle snake and triantulas in abundance.

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As afternoon approached we got into serious storm chase mode and began to position ourselves for the closest storm in the area. To photograph a good storm it’s important to stay ahead of it or behind it. If you get in the center all you see is heavy rain and hail. We wanted to get ahead of this storm and with the road network as it is we had to head right through the center of the storm. We had heavy rain but missed the hailstorm. It must have dropped a couple of inches of pea sized hail.

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We finally got ahead of the storm and satyed ahead of it for the remainder of the day. It was not a supercell but it did offer some nice photo opportunities.

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We had a few minutes to stop and photograph lightning before the wind kicked up nearly knocking us and our tripods over so back in the van we went and headed towards our hotel while the thunder, lightning, rain and wind raged around us.

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All in all it was a great week. We had some excellent storms, visited some interesting towns, ate the local fare and enjoyed each others company…just what storm chasing is all about. Many thanks to Brian Morganti and Chris Gullikson (who spends his time when not storm chasing working with Operation Migration, the Whooping Crane Reintroduction project) as well as Mark, Joe & JoAnn my fellow storm chasers for making this a great week.
I’m already planning my return next year.

Images captured with Nikon D200, AF-S 18-200mm (infrared), D3X, AF-S 14-24mm (approaching storm), D700, AF-S 24-70mm (lightning) on Lexar digital media.