The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
-Psalm 19:1

Do you know that God controls the clouds and makes his lightning flash?
-Job 37:15

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Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Nope. not a hurricane gone ashore... it's a Mesoscale Convective Vortex

After a couple of "nasty" (frankly, I thought they were pretty cool) thunderstorms over the last couple of days in the Valdosta and Tallahassee areas, we had/still sort of have a really cool feature that was/is visible on satellite.

Looks oddly like a small hurricane with a nice tight eye gone ashore, right?  Well, it's not Hurricane Edouard or any sort of tropical cyclone, even.  It's a low pressure center within a mesoscale convective system, referred to as a mesoscale convective vortex (MCV). It's a rather pretty one, if you ask me.
 A mesoscale convective vortex (MCV) is a low-pressure center within an mesoscale convective system (MCS) that pulls winds into a circling pattern, or vortex. An MCV can take on a life of its own, persisting for up to 12 hours after its parent MCS has dissipated. This orphaned MCV will sometimes then become the seed of the next thunderstorm outbreak.  Wikipedia
In our case, the MCV is already losing much of it's structure, but it still has a swath of bands rotating around a less tightly compacted center, especially when you compare it with the deluge of storms over eastern Mexico as the remnants of Tropical Storm Dolly make their way inland and work at dissipating.  We would look to a MCV area for upcoming thunderstorm development, similar to how we would expect thunderstorms with any other low pressure system.

Thanks to my friend at the NWS for bringing the feature to my attention.  Cool stuff.

 Until next time,

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Oops, I did it again...

Last night was quite a night for thunderstorm activity.  We had a storm pulse up suddenly to our east and actually move over our house.  Frequent cloud to cloud and cloud to ground lightning was popping all around us.  As the storm moved to our west, it really got inflamed, and the lightning became constant. Suddenly, another cell initiated to our east, so we literally had it popping on either side of us.

With the frequency, I couldn't help but try my hand at shooting some.... yes, again.  Realize that I do not have many good angles from my house.  There is the west view, which has a line of VERY TALL trees about 100 yards in front of us.  There is the north view with yet another line of very tall trees about the same distance away.  The east view, where our shed and the neighbors house block my view and trees beyond that and then finally, the south view... house, tree.  It's a storm chasers nightmare of home placement.  Oh, how I would love to live on an open field with a wonderful view of all angles. 

Clearly, I am not geographically placed well for shooting lightning from the abode, and until I really nail down my technique and get a remote for shooting, I am not venturing out to a field like some chasers I know (who get great shots, by the way).  I am just not there yet. 

As the storm was east, I scurried into my sunroom to shoot from there... through the opened screen door, which kept slamming shut on me, and the rain was pouring in and covering my camera... no good.  As it moved west, I chased it to the front porch, but I couldn't really get any good bolts... the storm was immediately overhead and most was cloud to cloud lightning at this point. 

When thunder roars, go indoors.  

So... I went into my garage for the more open northward view.  Technically, I was indoors... with a really large door open right beside me.  I didn't get any shots and the storm had moved further west, so back to the porch I trudged. AND, I got one!!

He fills his hands with lightning and commands it to strike its mark. Job 36:32
I love the detail of this CG lightning strike.  I love how it webs out.  This photograph is untouched (hence the water droplets on the lens).  The corner is the edge of my front porch.  The view is to the southwest, where a local said they heard a thunderclap so loud that they thought their windows would burst.  As far as technique, I am still not where I want to be with my lightning photography, but I think that will require me stepping out into some scenery and getting away from the trees.

Until next time,

Sunday, August 31, 2014

A little night magic...

It's been a while since I have stood outside in a thunderstorm (I don't recommend you doing this!!! When thunder roars, go indoors!) to shoot lightning, but hubby suggested it tonight when it seemed like it was popping every second. Of course, when I got out there, Dewvoid kicked in and things started to pulse down... typical. I was, however, able to nab a couple of decent shots before it completely fizzled out.

You see, back on the 4th of July, I was inspired to start playing with the settings on my camera, and there we were with 10 boxes of sparklers and my camera and well... we got creative. I figured out how to get my shutter to work to my advantage. It was such a fun time, and I felt so completely inspired.  It was so much fun!

I really haven't been all that inspired to shoot weather since I haven't been on this blog. On my paying gig, I had access to all sorts of stock photos so I got a bit lazy... I forgot what I loved about shooting weather.  These pics aren't great. There is definite room for improvement, but I am interested in doing it again, so that's a big bonus. I had forgotten the tingle in my stomach while reviewing shots and seeing that I GOT ONE!!!
I have missed that feeling.  I actually bounced into the house with a childish grin on my face.  I will continue to work with settings and technique, but I think I am on to something.

Until next time,

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Impacts of Hurricane Cristobal

Hurricane Cristobal, though a "fish storm" not directly impacting land, still has an impact. As storms churn off the coast, there can be substantial impacts on shore.  In the case of Hurricane Cristobal, so far, I have seen reports of 4 deaths attributed to the rip currents caused by the low end, off-the-coast hurricane.

I'm sure, by now, you've had the opportunity to see images of the waves off the coast of California, spawned by Hurricane Marie, also a "fish storm".  The waves have drawn surfers and spectators galore.  Here is a link to an article with some pics, in case you've missed them.  They were monstrous, raging waves.

Along the eastern seaboard, the impacts of Hurricane Cristobal have not been nearly as dramatic as the impacts of Hurricane Marie were on the western coast, but there are still impacts.  They are impacts that are more subtle and thereby, I would argue, more dangerous.  Powerful rip currents are stirred up when a hurricane spins off-shore. 

Rip current
A rip current, commonly referred to simply as a rip, or by the misnomer "rip tide", is one specific kind of water current that can be found near beaches. It is a strong, localized, and rather narrow current of water. Wikipedia
 As unsuspecting swimmers are grabbing onto their last days of summer, before school kicks off in the northeast, they are subjecting themselves to dangerous conditions in the ocean.  Rip currents can grab a strong swimmer and take their life.  The narrowness of the current makes it virtually invisible and incredibly dangerous.  If for whatever reason you find yourself caught in a rip current, you are advised to swim parallel to the shore in order to escape it and then swim ashore.  Sadly, you will likely not be successful if you try to swim directly out of it.

Rip currents kill. 

I highly recommend that if rip current flags are raised, then you should stay out of the water, but if you happen to be in the water and get caught up in one, know ahead how to save yourself.  Educate your children, tell the people you're vacationing with... it could save someone's life.

Be aware of what's going on off-shore during your beach vacation.  Hurricanes that don't make landfall don't have much wind and surge impact, but there are other dangerous impacts that are helpful to be aware of...

Till next time,