Collin J Örthner – Photographer

August 14, 2009

Thunderstorm Alley

Filed under: Agriculture, Nature, Skyscape, Storms — collin j örthner @ 4:09 am

I think there really is a “Thunderstorm Alley” here in Alberta. Honestly, I believe that Lacombe must get three times the rain that Red Deer does. I have heard many people say that Red Deer has the worst summer weather because of all the storms. I think that what they mean to say is that Blackfalds and Lacombe, just north of Red Deer, have the worst weather because of all the storms. I have watched the Environment Canada radar for the last few years mostly to get a good idea of where storms are headed and how serious they are for when I want to go chasing them and it’s quite amazing the frequency that many many thunderstorms travel, you guessed it, just north of us through Blackfalds and Lacombe. No different story two nights ago when a real doozy followed this same pattern again. It’s not just Blackfalds and Lacombe that are so lucky, but I have noticed that the area around Drayton Valley seems to get it’s fair share of thunderbumpers as well. As for this latest storm to come through I knew it would travel in a path east south east from Blackfalds, so I quickly jumped in the car to head it off between there and Joffre on a high point of land I have scouted previously which offers an unhindered view for many miles. I was a bit late and the storm was pretty much on top of me. I fired off a few quick images as the setting sun made for some very dramatic lighting.

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Not wanting to settle for one good image I immediately drove north right under the fast approaching storm and used my fisheye lens (image has been defisheyed) which gives you a good idea how menacing these things look as they pounce down on the land.

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No time to waste here as it is starting to rain already. I quickly raced (raced is a good term to use in this case) east and south again towards Joffre to capture it again from a bit further in front, this time with a very vulnerable crop of grain in the foreground. The NOVA plant can be seen at the extreme left in the next image. I ran up the side of the ditch, planted my tripod and fired away. I also took a nice video of this thing approaching but abandoned the camera on the tripod for the safety of the car as there was quite a bit of lightning and the potential for being hit didn’t sit well with me. I let the video run for about two minutes and I made a mad dash back to retrieve the gear.

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Now, I don’t give up real easy on these storms and I thought there might be some evidence of it’s passing left behind, so I travelled back north through the storm and entered into some hail. Nothing too big but enough that I parked under a tree in Joffre for a few minutes. Once the hail stopped I beelined north some more and found a swath of hail had gone through as evidenced in the photo. There were many cherry sized stones, but it had not lasted long and really didn’t cause much damage to the crops from what I could tell.

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I’ll finish the story tomorrow, and it has some more interesting things that were needing to be captured by my camera. Stay tuned.

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