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

Monday, March 02, 2009

Chasing the sun across Florida... sunset... sunrise

As I mentioned, I missed the tornado in Valdosta on Saturday because I was in the Gulf of Mexico. It's a bummer to have missed such a rare occurence, one that I have been seeking for... years, but my experience this weekend was well worth it. After the rain out on Valentine's Day, my wonderfully romantic gtb and I, rescheuled Valentine's Day for Saturday. I knew the weather was ripe, and I knew that a great chance existed for a daytime tornado in my neck of the woods, but I was not about to bail out on his plans, which involved such thoughtfulness. It's the small sacrifices... and even the big ones sometimes, right? Anyways, chances were that if I had stayed in the area, the Dewvoid would have kicked in, and nothing would have happened. I can't put my life on hold to chase, can I?? sigh. Don't answer that, guys.

Now, onto the story... after CPR class, and after my wonderful gtb got off of work on Saturday, he picked me up at the house without giving me any information. I left a tornado watch and approaching cold front. We headed southwest, down highway 129 in Florida. About 2 hours into the trip, I got a call from a co-worker friend who was asking why the cable had replaced the regularly scheduled broadcasting for an EAS message. I told him I was out of the area, and he needs to listen to those Emergency Broadcasts and take them all seriously. I did not have radar to let him know what was going on, but he told me it was a Severe Thunderstorm warning. (DEWVOID, activate!) I told him that some of the cells ahead of the approaching front were showing signs of rotation, daytime heating had provided sufficient instability, and tornadoes were possible, and I was two hours south... We stopped only to take a pic of this really cool bowling alley mural...We arrived at Cedar Key, Florida, I didn't know a boat was involved, but on the way down, my wonderfully sneaky gtb called to let them (without me knowing who them was) know how far out we were, and asked to confirm their "departure time"... when I heard that, I guessed a boat was involved (the analytical detective mind of mine... gtb and his dear son always grumble when I consistently beat them at Clue)... Anyways, I said, "So, if a boat is involved, I need 30 minutes advanced notice, so I can take Dramamine." He asked, "How much of that conversation did you hear???" Enough. lol. So, with an ETA of about 30 minutes out, he suggested we (him too) take Dramamine (which I happened to have in my purse for such an occasion... I like to be prepared.) We pulled up to the dock, and had some time to capture the weather station and some cool bird shots.... which was the actual color of shot, showing how grey the sky was for us.
We loaded the boat and headed to a small island, out west of Cedar Key. With an ominous looking sky, our hopes were slightly dashed that there would not be much of a sunset, ...but we didn't let that get in the way of our adventure.

Windmill destroyed when an unnamed hurricane hit the island.Bald Eagle nest:
We explored the island for about 45 minutes before we departed again for the water. As we came up the walkway toward the dock, we were blown away by how the sky had changed... by the amazing altocumulus mackerel sky (I didn't correct the captain when he called them cirrus clouds.)
We climbed aboard the boat, and the captain asked what our interest was. The two women aboard (includes me) had our sites set on dolphins... so we skipped out on the lighthouse island in favor of dolphins (on the last day the island was accessible to the public because all the birds in the area nest there, which has protected the island. As for the dolphins, and Captain Bryan was happy to oblige. We encountered a friendly pod that was apparently feeding in the general vicinity and were told that they don't usually hang out as long as they did for us... BONUS!
Then, the sun started to set. Amazing! Breath-taking! Glorious! AWESOME! How great is our God?!

That's when the phone alerted us about the tornado warning, so I was making calls, receiving calls, texting people and taking pictures of an amazing mackerel sky sunset from a boat in the Gulf of Mexico, which included some virga, which is rain that doesn't touch the ground. It was amazing!

After fulfilling a quick seafood fix, we were back on the road. I fell asleep along the drive... car trips will sometimes put me to sleep... which made my wonderfully romantic gtb happy because, I had no idea where we were headed. Well, we ended up on the Atlantic coast of Florida... in Jacksonville, stayed there at the beach, and woke up in the morning to watch the sunrise together!!!
Unfortunately, the sunrise was less than spectacular, and din't even come close to touching the amazing sunset we experienced the night before, but the company, the amazing and wonderful thought of chasing the sun across Florida, and the amazing thunderstorm behind us, made it all worth it!!! Plus, the sun trying to peak through the clouds offered us a sun pillar, which was really incredible. A sun pillar is a column of sunlight reflected from horizontal surfaces of ice crystals, AND the sun pillar was reflected in the sand in front of us!!!We also got a show as the dissipating thunderstorm was lit up by the rising sun.
It was wonderful, couldn't have been a better Valentine's Day! It was perfect... you know, except for missing the tornado back home.

Wonderful, wonderful adventure!


  1. Dew, that's awesome! Thanks for sharing your vday adventure! How come you decided to not let the captain know he was mistaken about the type of cloud? haha. The photo of you and your man on the dock is great! Couldn't ask for a better back drop.

  2. Gladly. It was a wonderful adventure. I hate to correct people who are talking about stuff that I know way too much about. He sounded so knowledgable, and the other guy there was a know-it-all, and it just got annoying, so I kept my mouth shut. It was a regular riot when they found out I was a storm chaser though. While I was dealing with the calls and stuff, I heard them talking about Twister.

    We love that shot with the mackerel sky behind us. We couldn't have ordered a better sky for the occasion.

  3. Ceder Key is a cool place. Have done a few canes there. I have left comments in some of the bed and breakfast guestbooks rooms there over the years. They love the chasers when under the gun from a storm.

    That NOAA wx tower is well known with cane chasers. great pics!

  4. Those are great photos. Glad you had a great time.


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