Last July, I had the pleasure of seeing this spectacular thunderstorm roll over the Sandia Mountains while I was back in New Mexico for a conference. I pulled off NM SR556 to shoot a few single frame photographs and panoramas of the passing rainstorm as it dumped precipitation on Placitas.
Monsoon Clouds over Sandias (2017, Pano #1, Color), outside Albuquerque, NM (16″x65″)
Monsoon Clouds over Sandias (2017, SF #1, B&W), outside Albuquerque, NM (12″x18″)
I went for a January pre winter storm (in Tucson read: rainstorm) hike in the Tucson Mountains. Cactus spines and arms stood out in front of the approaching clouds.
Cactus Top and Clouds, Tucson Mountains, AZ (12″x18″)
Saguaro Cacti in the Clouds, Tucson Mountains, AZ (12″x18″)
As I mentioned in last week’s post, rising air on the flanks of the Himalaya brings moisture to ~14,000 feet by around 11:00AM. We could see clouds gathering by 9:00 AM as we hiked across an open, rolling landscape to reach one of the slightly higher lakes (first panorama). By the time we cored the lake twice, visibility was down to a few feet- getting wet out on the water with no sunshine made the work miserably cold (second panorama).
Hike to the Upper Lake and Distant Clouds, near Jumla, Nepal (14″x82″)
Fogged in Upper Lake, near Jumla, Nepal (16″x74″)
We stopped at a hotel near the Indian border in Bhimdatta, Nepal to stay over night before coring a lake in the nearby Himalayan foothills. From the hotel roof, I photographed the line of approaching storm clouds in the evening then the surrounding town in the morning. If time had permitted, I would have explored and photographed the half-constructed cement structure in the morning (left side of second panorama)…but we had to get to work.
Evening Pre-Monsoon Clouds, Bhimdatta, Nepal (16″x48″)
Morning View of Bhimdatta, Bhimdatta, Nepal (16″x73″)
Another angle on the monsoon storm over Tucson.
Monsoon Storm over Tucson from Windy Point, Coronado National Forest, AZ (14″x48″)
One of the final 2016 monsoon storms over Tucson and the Santa Catalina Mountains.
Monsoon Clouds over Catalinas from Windy Point, Coronado National Forest, AZ (16″x48″)
After arriving in Boulder, I noticed flashing light off to the east through the trees. I couldn’t hear the thunder, but lightning was striking every half second in the thunderstorm over the plains. I drove up the hill near the NCAR Mesa Lab and took a few 30-second exposures of this storm cloud before heading to bed.
Lightning Storm from South Boulder (#2), Boulder, CO (12″x18″)
Lightning Storm from South Boulder (#4), Boulder, CO (12″x18″)
When I stepped off the plane from Nepal in late June, it was about 110F (~40C) here in southern Arizona. Fortunately, the monsoon started soon after I arrived. After work one evening I drove up to the top of Sentinel Peak (near downtown Tucson) and shot a few panoramas of the lumbering monsoon storms as they approached from the south.
Monsoon Storm from Sentinel Peak #2, Tucson Mountains, AZ (16″x74″)
I left Tucson for Albuquerque just a few hours ahead of the gathering December snow storm. A wall of white clouds over the salt flats just south of Wilcox kept catching my eye, and I finally had to pull over to photograph the low fog hugging Dos Cabezas peaks at Exit 352.
Gathering Storm over Dos Cabezas, near Wilcox, AZ (12″x18″)
After spending the day climbing near the top of the Catalinas, I stopped at the Seven Cataracts pullout along the Catalina Highway to take this photograph of a monsoon storm over Tucson.