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Paul Sherman

Reports & Pictures Chase Day 5 - Arizona

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Well today went amazingly well. After all the fun of the first 4 days we were starting to wonder how to top all that had happened, so we pulled out the Isolated Monsoon Storm over the Grand Canyon for you today complete with Cg Lightning.

Left Phoenix and headed for Flagstaff for Lunch, after that went to visit a Volcano that erupted in 1068 at around 8,000f asl, we were only 79 miles from the Grand Canyon and with Storms firing over that area it would serve as a good chase Target if anything could get sustained long enough to keep going at Sunset. We saw some Lightning from a Small Storm at the Volcano making it 6 from 6 days for Storms and keeping our record intact.

We arrived at The Grand Canyon South Rim at about 6pm and shot some nice Pictures in the fading Light, always keeping an eye on a line of Storms off to our North which were moving just due East of the Grand Canyon. Darkness falls around 715pm here and at 7pm the Shower had now turned into a small isolated Storm spitting out regular Cg's.

As it got dark the contrast and Lighting with the Grand Canyon in the foreground was perfect and the guys witnessed something pretty spectacular and unique filming and shooting stills of the Lightning.

This place is so diverse and we have not even covered 1/50th of the things to do.

Hope you enjoy the Pictures.

Paul S

post-24-0-70456600-1314004779_thumb.jpg - Started by visiting a Volcano which is not even 1,000 years old!

post-24-0-91221800-1314004834_thumb.jpg - The Would be Dusk T-Storm Starting to Initiate

post-24-0-18857300-1314004936_thumb.jpg - Grand Canyon

post-24-0-03485100-1314005003_thumb.jpg - Incredible Scene

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post-24-0-33974100-1314004722_thumb.jpg - Cg Lightning shot from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon

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nice pics Paul, Grande Canyon on my hit list do not know when i will make it back out storm chasing but hopefully 2013 would be a hard choice between Tornadoes or Arizona

Palo Duro Canyon perhaps acute.gif in May

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Hi Pete

Think Tornadoes will always win through for me although the Arizona Chase is a million miles away from Tornado chasing with sedate chases and no real stresses, ambling along and finding great vantage points is the most stressfull thing we do here - Lol

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Think it's fair to say I realised a dream yesterday, lightning photography at the Grand Canyon, does it get much better than this? LOVING Arizona !!!!

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Loads of other pics but no time atm to go through them all, I'll be busy when I get home !!

Craig

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Brief day 5 report from Utah tour ... from base in Kanab, headed north then east to Escalante intercepting first of many storms near north end Bryce Canyon at noon (times MDT). Temp dropped from 87 to 64 F in two minutes with heavy rain starting to fill dry washes near road. Headed further east through very scenic country to Escalante with major storm developing over Table Rock Mesa to our north and later to our northwest. Lunch stop in sunshine and 90 F (these are all from car thermometer) with west through north sky black and rumbling more often than my tum. By 2 pm arrived at Boulder UT (6500 ft asl) with the storm keeping pace to our west, lightning about once a minute. Stopped at scenic lookout at 9000 ft on Boulder Mtn (temp in 60s F) and took two-minute video panoramic sweep showing about eight CBs in all sorts of development stages, only the southeast quadrant was storm free. Lightning during this video. Headed north and outran the storm which seemed to want to stay pinned on top of 11,000 ft peak while other storms to our east headed northeast ahead of us. Briefly toured Capitol Reef NP which had been hit by two days of "heavy monsoon storms" (according to park ranger who kindly booted up his laptop radar although I sort of have a mental version of the Baron going on, visibility around here not exactly a problem ha ha). Washes (dry rivers) in this park were quite full of muddy runoff. Temp about 78 F now quite comfy. Headed east and then south through dry rather flat country this time with black and brown coloured mesas looking like coal tips. Then back into red rock country, increasingly scenic to south as we crossed Colorado River 7 pm. Large CB developing to our southeast, heading that way (numerous other very large clusters well off to the east). I have some stunning shots of this storm taken near Natural Bridges Nat'l Monument including very bright double rainbow. Some intense lightning and temp dropped from 91 F to 64 F once again in about five minutes. At one early stage caught a 30-40 mph outflow northeast wind from north side of the cell (estimate it was 45,000' and about 8 miles in diameter off to our east and later north although we definitely core punched it). Rain briefly very heavy then we turned south and left this storm to its fate in order to reach Monument Valley by sunset. This more or less worked out although it was quite dusky past Mexican Hat UT. Intense lightning now from yet another large TRW+ located perhaps 5-8 miles to our south as we drove southeast into darkness on NM-AZ border. From there, booted it back to base camp with that storm fading behind us while yet another one ramped up ahead of us approaching Page AZ around 11 pm. Saw perhaps a dozen intense CG bolts, sadly camera now out of juice but ... similar to tour one's shots above. Temp now back up to 89 F near midnight (Page is rather low in elevation and at the Glen Canyon Dam that creates Lake Powell on the Colorado River). Last hour of the drive back to base camp had only clear skies (no complaints).

Tis now 1105 local time in Kanab, a more leisurely day is planned touring Zion and Cedar Breaks then back towards LV for flight home Tuesday. Picture download not really possible here so will do it all 4 U on Wednesday.

If you ever wondered, the scenery in the southern half of Utah is almost universally breath-taking and with great variety place to place, colours keep changing with different formations, will give some kind of an overview when I can create a map at home.

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Stunning pictures Paul and co, must say I am a wee bit jealous!

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Thanks Nick - Arizona is an incredible place - Would need a month to see it all really

Stitched Pano of 3 Pictures showing the Grand Canyon from the South Rim

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That stitch is ace Paul! Takes me back to last year when I was there at sunset :D

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I love Arizona. Camper Van'd it there a while back. The Grand Canyon is awesome. That CG pic is mental! Enjoy. Very jealous.

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Hi Paul. I love ths picture. What format were the originals taken in Jpeg or Raw. I recon with the originals I could make this image pop. If your willing send me a disk with the originals and I'll have a play.

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I don't see a Monday (day 6) report thread ... just to let people know, we toured Zion and Cedar Breaks in clear weather, some interesting wave clouds about the only active weather for us (which is fine, had our fill) and it got a lot warmer as we descended in elevation reaching 42 C at St George UT late afternoon supper break. Overnight at Mesquite NV where the casino gives you a decent room and brekky for $25 (they expect their money in other ways) ... great for mere tourists ... now on what must be day 7 we are in Las Vegas where it is 62,347 degrees and luckily no humidity. Flying home tonight (probably by plane) and the pix-fest will begin shortly thereafter. Onwards and upwards ...

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TIme-lapse video of the Milky Way on the way back from the grand canyon. It was my first attempt. 590 photos back to back into a video. Shot with EOS 5D Mk2. The black shadows on the left are my hand trying to stop car lights from flaring the images.

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Day 5 (Sunday 21st August) or day four of the Utah edition ...

... a comprehensive summary of our day was posted above. You might want to scroll up, read that, then return here so I don't waste NW bandwidth with all the same info. The program has scrambled the order of my photos, so references below to the gallery can be decoded by numbering the pictures from top left, running left to right.

This was an amazing day of cloud scenery more than land scenery although the latter was not too shabby at times. We started again from Kanab UT and moved north past Bryce Canyon at noon, this time not going south into the park but continuing east towards Escalante on Utah state highway 12.

The first photo below (#3 in gallery) shows a panorama of developing storms at 1:00 pm MDT (looking west) including one that we had driven through recently. It was sunny and 31 C at our location near Tropic UT but had briefly fallen to 18 C in the storm. The second photo (#4 in gallery) looks north over nearby Table Rock Mesa (Powell Point) which has lovely pink and white coloration. A strong thunderstorm cell is developing in this view, about 10 miles north of our location.

The third shot (#9 in gallery) from Escalante UT looking west, shows the same cell an hour later (1:45 pm MDT), while not much of a scenery shot, you can see how black the sky was getting, with distant rumbles of thunder. Temperature 32 C with sunshine fading as sun angle changed. At times west of Escalante, before this photo was taken, we were getting wafts of cool air dropping temperature to 24 C but without rain at our location.

The next shot (#8 in this gallery) shows the rain and possibly hail shaft from the same storm after we had moved ahead and to its northeast near Boulder UT. Later today I'll post a two-minute video showing a panoramic 360deg sweep of the various sky conditions from Boulder Mountain at the 9,000 ft level. For now, the next picture for reference (#7 in gallery) shows one still photo of a rather strange looking cloud arch looking northeast at about 2:45 pm. Should mention that we stopped to view interesting native American archaeology site at Anasazi State Park in Boulder, showing a reconstruction of how this vanished tribe lived around 1160 AD before a severe drought apparently forced them to migrate out of the four corners region. At other times we have visited Mesa Verde (CO) and several sites in AZ and NM related to this tribe. Some think they may have gone north, others that they morphed into the modern Navajos of northeast AZ and northwest NM.

The sixth picture in the gallery is taken near Capitol Reef National Park about 5 p.m. located further northeast pretty much in central Utah. This geology is different again, large rocky cliffs that reminded people of the U.S. Capitol building, hence the name. The picture shows one rather typical view in the park. We were unable to tour here due to road closures off the main highway due to wash overflows (usually dry rivers flooding). We could see plenty of muddy water in the Fremont River running beside the state highway.

For two hours after that, we drove through various colours of mesas and bluffs ranging from coal black at first to yellow, then pink-red-orange again like Kanab, and eventually crossed the Colorado River near the northeast end of Lake Powell. The fifth picture in the gallery shows "Jacob's Chair" which is an odd rock formation on top of a mesa. About this time, driving southeast at 7 p.m., we were clearly approaching a very active thunderstorm cell. Just before eight o'clock in the evening, picture #1 below shows our close approach to the west side of this cell with a heavy rain shaft, rainbows and (not in picture) vivid forked lightning which at one point came down almost between the rainbows. Amazing stuff. As I took this picture, a strong northeast wind was out-flowing from the cell, which seemed to be almost stationary or drifting north. The second picture in the gallery shows waves of monsoonal thunderstorms off to the east, taken through the rain shaft of the active storm (location just south of Natural Bridges National Monument or west of Blanding UT). These large storms off to the east were in different lighting due to our cell, and stretched off probably beyond the "four corners" where AZ, UT, NM and CO meet.

From here, as darkness fell, we drove into Monument Valley past Mexican Hat UT, and headed west again in northern AZ with frequent vivid lightning from two cells, neither of which was right over our route but close, so that we could see numerous instances of forked lightning and CB tops being lit up from within, between Kayenta AZ and Page AZ. We'll have to work on our night photography but basically the Arizona tour has the same photos that we might have captured. The lightning is impressive indeed and seems to have a rather purplish hue at times, and the thunder echoes off the surrounding mesas and cliffs to give a very dramatic sound effect.

Will post that two-minute movie in a while, and scenery from Monday (day 6) when a thread is open for that day.

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Posted · Hidden by Roger J Smith, August 25, 2011 - No reason given
Hidden by Roger J Smith, August 25, 2011 - No reason given

Now we come to the part of Storm Chase where we film.

First video, two-minute panoramic sweep from Boulder Mountain, the one thing you need to bear in mind is that the views at start and finish are somewhat "washed out" by the exposure needed for the rest of the movie, in other words, what you see in those parts will not show a bright red and yellow landscape out beyond the cloud shadow. So imagine that you can see that as you're watching. This video shows views in all directions from the lookout high above the surrounding plateau, with storms off to south, west and north as well as others developing to east. I'm hoping Canadian to English subtitles are not needed but the wind noise you can hear is real, it was quite breezy up there.

The second video is a short clip taken by my wife Sheila as we were driving towards the Colorado River, with me droning on about the scenery and clouds. Fasten your seat belts.

The third video is just a five-second stub of what was supposed to be another longer video, somehow it stopped filming, but the five seconds you get is good enough (all you miss actually is more of the same with me describing the strong wind blowing from the storm into my face while filming).

Enjoy.

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Finally managed to upload some videos, the first one is a two-minute panoramic sweep of storm development taken from a high elevation on Boulder Mountain in central Utah (on day 5 or Sunday) ... the lighting quality at the start and finish are poor, in the few seconds where I am filming out of the darker surroundings towards the very bright southeast horizon, so imagine if you would that you can see that very bright red-yellow patchwork beyond the shadow of the storm. Otherwise it looks about like I remember, and the main feature is the storm structure nearby and overhead. The background noise is wind (SSW 20-35 mph during the shoot).

Then I have this shorter 15-second clip of our approach to the Colorado River later that same day, driving southeast about 6 p.m. and approaching the storm that later gave us the rainbows and lightning.

Finally, a five-second clip that was supposed to run longer, of that evening storm -- but I think it's fine as is, the rest of my non-recorded spiel was mainly about how the wind was blowing into my face at 30-40 mph, and how I would like there to be another lightning bolt, like the one that happened about 10 seconds before I started filming. That was amazing -- the view was a double rainbow with a parellel third feature, a zig-zag CG bolt. From the elapsed time to thunder, it was about half a mile away.

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Great video and stills Roger. Looks like you had a great time as well as the NW team. good.gif

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Yep, it was win-win for both groups, next time I go, would like to swing a bit further south into Arizona and a bit further east in Utah, also northwest New Mexico. From what I saw on radar, some of the best storms may actually be there in n.w. New Mexico and I've always wanted to visit the Chaco ruins located there. Other "next time" ideas -- Canyon de Chelly (pronounced de shay) in Navajo country in northeast AZ, Monument Valley by day rather than lit up by lightning (although that was freaky), winning instead of losing in the daily poker tournament, improving my night photography, and finding a job down there so I can live in Utah all the time.

Not much to ask, really.

The one thing that doesn't come through on any photos is the aroma of sagebrush after the rain, very nice, like a sort of perfumed soap. You get a real sense of freedom and wide-open spaces especially away from the national parks which can be a bit crowded. I also appreciated the 75-80 mph speed limits on the interstate (I-15 in our case).

When we drove down Road 400 from Utah route 12 to US 89, we passed a grand total of two vehicles in 50 miles, and one was driving in to rescue the other as it turned out (they were apparently broken down but they didn't signal me so I didn't know, just thought they were on a back-country picnic). The second car was the sherriff driving in to answer their call. Thank goodness for cell phones. At least I was able to tell him where to look (left side, bend number 623)

I would say that we saw at least forty different storms in three days, yet it was only raining on us about three times for a few minutes -- it's dead easy to find the storms and then to drive around their outside edges when there's no other cloud in the way. Here's a bonus trio of pictures from us -- more Bryce scenery looking south at two CBs trying to get a start in life, cowboy festival in Kanab, and what I believe may be the other storm chase group, not sure. (LOL)

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That first photo really gives it all a sense of perspective Roger. I don't mind heights but I think I'd struggle with that view... :D

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Nice Roger! Glad your trip went well also! Shame we did not meet on the lonely Highways - We also went 20 minutes without seeing a car last Friday!

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Well today went amazingly well. After all the fun of the first 4 days we were starting to wonder how to top all that had happened, so we pulled out the Isolated Monsoon Storm over the Grand Canyon for you today complete with Cg Lightning.

Left Phoenix and headed for Flagstaff for Lunch, after that went to visit a Volcano that erupted in 1068 at around 8,000f asl, we were only 79 miles from the Grand Canyon and with Storms firing over that area it would serve as a good chase Target if anything could get sustained long enough to keep going at Sunset. We saw some Lightning from a Small Storm at the Volcano making it 6 from 6 days for Storms and keeping our record intact.

We arrived at The Grand Canyon South Rim at about 6pm and shot some nice Pictures in the fading Light, always keeping an eye on a line of Storms off to our North which were moving just due East of the Grand Canyon. Darkness falls around 715pm here and at 7pm the Shower had now turned into a small isolated Storm spitting out regular Cg's.

As it got dark the contrast and Lighting with the Grand Canyon in the foreground was perfect and the guys witnessed something pretty spectacular and unique filming and shooting stills of the Lightning.

This place is so diverse and we have not even covered 1/50th of the things to do.

Hope you enjoy the Pictures.

Paul S

post-24-0-70456600-1314004779_thumb.jpg - Started by visiting a Volcano which is not even 1,000 years old!

post-24-0-91221800-1314004834_thumb.jpg - The Would be Dusk T-Storm Starting to Initiate

post-24-0-18857300-1314004936_thumb.jpg - Grand Canyon

post-24-0-03485100-1314005003_thumb.jpg - Incredible Scene

post-24-0-05106000-1314005050_thumb.jpg

post-24-0-33974100-1314004722_thumb.jpg - Cg Lightning shot from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon

Hi Paul,

Superb pictures. I was wondering were the San Francisco Peaks snow capped at this time of year? These mountain are beside Flagstaff and visible for miles and miles around the canyon. They have an alpine climate in sharp contrast to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. I was near where you were in May and Arizona in general has a stunning array of climates. The Grand Canyon as you look down it you are suppose to be able to see 7 different climates or something like that.

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Hi Paul,

Superb pictures. I was wondering were the San Francisco Peaks snow capped at this time of year? These mountain are beside Flagstaff and visible for miles and miles around the canyon. They have an alpine climate in sharp contrast to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. I was near where you were in May and Arizona in general has a stunning array of climates. The Grand Canyon as you look down it you are suppose to be able to see 7 different climates or something like that.

Hi Mate

The San Francisco Peaks run from West of Flaggstaff towards California and are apart of the San Andreas Fault Complex I learned whilst we were out there, the Volcano we visited is only 950 years old and was formed 2 years after the battle of Hastings in 1068. But I think the SF Peaks are not snow covered in July and August due to the excessive Heat but will be when the first fronts crash through, we also went through 7 Life Zones on Mount Lemmon which is way South near Tucson, at 9,000ft asl some of the Zones were Urban, Pine, Rock, Desert and finally we ended at a place called Ski Valley at the Top which had Wooden Chalets and Ski Lifts, incredible to think they Ski up there when Tucson is baking in 110f below on the Desert Floor obviously the Ski Lifts wont be operable until nearer Xmas but even so an amazing climate.

Paul S

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