My decision to venture into storm chasing is more of a recent one with my landscape photography. Watching ‘Storm Chasers’ on ‘Discovery’ piqued my interest many years ago and the seed was set. Using my birthday as an excuse to fund a 10 day vacation chasing the storm in the US Mid-West , with my wife, seemed appropriate.
Many of our friends and family thought were were a bit odd and warned us to be careful however we knew that the going with an organised and experienced crew like Netweather.tv the risks would likely be minimal.
The first few days were mostly travelling to areas of predicted higher risk, travelling from our arrival location in Dallas, further north into the infamous Tornado Alley of the mid-west. Our first encounter was an amazing lightning storm on our first night at sunset with an amazing shelf cloud that lit up scarlet.
The initial aim of our adventure was to witness tornadoes, but what we hadn’t realised is the structure of the storms would be as or more wondrous and beautiful. A few days into the trip we parked up, after chasing this storm for a while. It wasn’t going to produce, but it was one of the most beautiful cloud formations I have seen, a low-precipitation supercell, and it lit up pink, as the sun was setting.
Limon, Colorado was the most spectacular part of our adventure. We were lucky enough to encounter the ‘Denver cyclone’, an event that occurs every year around the edge of the rockies. We chased several supercells that day and were lucky enough to intercept eight tornadoes. The best and biggest; a rare mesocyclone with a producing a double tornado with a wedge and a land spout, which was also anti-cyclonic.
As with a lot of ventures into the unknown, the excitement and disappointments can be quite extreme some days. One day you might be battered but 100mph winds of a passing meso base, or witness some great mammatus clouds. The next day blue skies and fluffy clouds. I think however this is akin to maybe more landscape work where you are trying to achieve your shot and it can go one way or another.
Chasing the Storm
Experiencing the shifting temperatures and strong rear flank downdraft winds, dust storms, hundreds of lightning strikes and the beautiful cloud formations was something I had not pre-conceived. However trying to get images of them travelling at 70 mph or stopping only for 4 or 5 minutes at a time, to then leave and chase another, was challenging. Having the gopro on time-lapse mode was great to recollect the chase events.
I hope to go back soon to do some more chasing and also try to compile some camera based time-lapses. If only I had more time…… Read more here for an in-depth diary:
About Richard Fox
Richard is an amateur landscape photographer working out of Bovey Tracey, Devon, UK. Often found in the depths of Dartmoor (and a few other places), away from the hustle and bustle, often waiting for some light that invariably never arrives.