August 6, 2011 Seward Nebraska Mammatus, Valparaiso Shelf and Omaha Lightning

This day started by getting home at 7 a.m. after being up all night. The night before was late driving to Sioux Falls and back to clear clouds for Aurora ops that night. So yeah pretty tired when I got home at 7, slept at 8 a.m., woke up at noon, only to start thinking about chasing this day! Anyway, first image here is flooding near town as I drove back home in the morning. This water has been there for a long time now, south of highway 30. I hear the river has carved a new channel 40 feet deep through these fields. Pretty good flow to be dumping large trees out there in the middle of the field like that.

I then slept and then chased. I drove towards Wayne NE before finally deciding I should have went southwest to Grand Island. Watched a tornado warned supercell on radar for a good chunk of that drive. Get there and the storm is an undercut-funnel-machine. Not worthy enough for me to get video captures of them. I let it overtake me at Beaver Crossing on I80 as it bowed east. Wind was pretty fun. It was almost to the point of flattening the cornfield near me. I never ever think to shoot stills during the more action parts of chases like that. Like if you were pummeled by tons of softball hail, I'd be shooting video and never even think how cool a still photo of that might actually be. I need to start thinking about this during such times. Telephoto of that corn would have been worth it.

Pretty good double rainbow chase ensued after storm passage. You can see the left edge appearing closer, thanks to spray off a westbound semi(guessing).

Mammatus overhead driving through Seward. I actually thought I bothered with more of these images for on here than I evidently have. Redish mammatus sunsets aren't always the most camera friendly or process friendly. Probably half the reason I'm leaving so many off here.

Kinda cool scene with storm to the northwest. I can't believe that storm caught me where it did on my way home. I thought I had tons of room for the drive home to not end up in it. Next thing I know I turn north at Valparaiso and there it is already.

Here comes the very fast moving shelf.

Trees made it sound pretty damn windy now. I was rather blocked by the hill to the west and the trees.

This thing was annoying the piss out of me on the way north, through that shelf/storm's core. I couldn't shake the sprinkles and this far off thing looked like a huge fire with smoke plume going way east. I knew what it was, just saying what it looked like. Its skinny anvil looked so cool in the late twilight with stars and it was flickering still from time to time. Finally I clear the sprinkles but finding a clear view without cornfield issues...or poles...wasn't simple. I mostly included this for those buildings. The complex behind me to the east was extremely full of lightning. They had a pretty short anvil field behind them. That thing was acting like a big flash reflector. All the buildings to the west were strobing with the lightning. Really really cool night sky now. Those east, this west, stars above, storm south and pair of storms north.

Looking at the north storms and overhead anvils.

North storms star trail.

East storms star trail.

South storm. Big circle of storms flashing around me, crisp as hell night sky and the moon is even out, to the southwest, right of this frame. And nicest of all, it was really cool out too. These moments are some of the most enjoyable in chasing. No hurry to drive somewhere different, no leap frogging chaser issues, etc etc etc. Just sit and watch.

So I'm driving home after all that, on a day that started with me going to sleep at 8 a.m.! Surely the day is over now. I get food in Fremont, eat it on way to Arlington. East stuff was now WAY east. North stuff WAY northeast. South stuff had died out. I exit Arlington, belly now full, and am occasionally seeing if I can see the northeast storms at all. I then see flashing in my rear view mirror. Blew it off, then more and more. I'm like, what the hell is making this seemingly close flashing. I turn and look and hello, brand new storms just west of me, with the moon right behind their anvil. So I turn south toward Elkhorn until I can find a place to stop. I've left a lot of those out to this point. The complex is now moving east with their anvils spreading over Omaha city lights. No it obviously doesn't look this vivid with your eyes, but long exposures and/or higher ISOs can bring it all right out. The best place to shoot night storms to me would be near cities. You could make out some mammatus in the crappy anvils even.

Like others earlier, these too were extremely full of lightning. I'd guess 5 flashes a second out of them. If you had 5 updrafts each doing a bolt a second you'd be seeing 5 a second. Probably close to right here. I did a fairly long time lapse of stills of this. It's hard to let your camera be used for that for long, given you want to take regular photos. I have second and third cameras I could do that with, but not second wide angles or second 50mm lenses. And there is my problem, I want both of those for regular stills. Should buy a cheap wide angle.

I'm dumb for not doing more with those silos and the barn to the left. Probably would have if I didn't blow as much time on the time lapse part as I did.

I think it was now around 1:30 a.m. I was completely shot after the 2 nights before and this long ass day. Went home and crashed. The next night would be more storms. Finally some lightning around here to shoot. Between local and even chasing, there had been almost zero lightning ops. The year had been sorta stand out'ish over the lack of lightning ops. Trying to make up for it now.