June 26, 2008 Mullen to Grand Island Nebraska Severe Line

I was never overly thrilled with this chase setup. It had promise for northern NE though, I thought. It was also on the way back to the badlands, where I wanted to do some star trail photography, without a full moon this time....and with a cable release that actually works as you want it to. So that was the plan, chase it on my way there. I get to Valentine and storms wanted to fire southwest of there and move east/southeast. So, I drove sw on 97 to Mullen, then on east to Thedford as they got going. By the end of the chase I was in Grand Island and star trails in the badlands did not sound fun at all. So I just drove back home.

This happens south of Thedford. I couldn't let the unwarranted "storm crowding" go uninformed.

Then this happens! I guess the news was reason for celebration. That whole deal was coming right for me too. I about yelled, "big hail!".

The storm sucked, depressingly bad. I thought no way in hell it catches up with the outflow it had racing out ahead of it. But by about Broken Bow it changed. I could feel I was now into the better moisture, and the storm showed signs of it. Above was in Broken Bow. It was now really hard to stay ahead of or get many pictures of.

East of Broken Bow several miles.

You could see some nice convection curling upwards above the growing/deepening shelf cloud.

Can't say I've seen a shelf cloud quite like this was now. It had two distinct roll looking bands to it.

Time to leave....again. I think I had 3 stopping points, that's it, between Broken Bow and Grand Island.

Getting closer to Grand Island now. The first thing that caught my eye was the ne side of the line to my north. The shelf structure up there was amazing. Lightning would light it up, and I'd utter out an "oh my god" each time. I flew east trying to give myself some time to shoot it. I then see these fields with an insane amount of lightning bugs. I'm out all the time shooting lightning and storms at night, always around corn fields. I've seen lots of these in fields before, many times. I've never seen anything anywhere near this thick. The whole field was glittering extremely rapidly. Without the storm it would have been a spectical worthy of a very long viewing. It was just really neat for some reason. I can't think of any great comparisons for it. Very high ISO speed is all that will really pick them up. I am sure these were 800 and 1600 ISO at the F4 aperture max on my lens.

This lighter picture shows them better. It was nuts. The picture doesn't even come close to conveying the scene though.

I wanted to get the shelf coming into a city, lit up by the lights. They can look very cool that way. I largely screw it up though. I wanted a back parking lot so I could shoot west without lights in front of me. I thought the Walmart entrance would be down the road further. It wasn't, I missed it. So instead I have to go way south and turn into the Menards one. This in nw Grand Island by the way. I was rapidly running out of time since the storm was flying. So no real time to go anywhere else. I could only pull over here and get what I could.

The shots I wanted weren't really lightning lit ones. They work though. All I needed was a high ISO shot at the shelf and it would show up from the city lights. High ISO with street lights or building lights though, just doesn't work. All I could do with the scene was shorter exposure ones and hope to catch lightning lighting up the shelf. The shot here had to be right where it was, thanks to brighter lights just left and right of the frame.

The high ISO noise jumps out in this one.

I really screwed up the part of it moving overhead. Rain hit the lens well before it got there and I had to clean it off. That smeared things. Not just that, but I had zoomed it in some without knowing, so most of it is not in the shot. I also had my 17-40L on instead of the 10-22. That other lens would have helped since it is way wider. I just really messed up that whole city part, compared to how I planned it to work. I'm usually pretty good at getting the shots how I want them. This instance though, I just felt like it was one of those bad dreams where nothing is working right or fast enough. The damn rain, the lighting around where I was, and the speed were not helping.

Looking east after it passed over. That is the underside of the lead edge of the shelf. Winds hit that were likely in the 70 mph range here. I had that big building to my west but wind would still really buffet the car from time to time. Finished the drive home after this, getting home around 2 a.m. Had I went to the Badlands I would have missed the big wind storm that hit Omaha today(27th). That would have sucked a little, even though I missed the worst part of the winds by just a couple miles where I was.