Wild Goose Chase?

Wednesday, August 19, 2015


Tornado Watch 494 was issued for eastern Iowa and western Illinois by the SPC at 1:30 pm CDT on Tuesday, August 18, 2015. A report of a tornado was made from near Stanwood, Iowa, in northern Cedar County around 3:15 pm, just as I was arriving home in Cedar Rapids from work. At this time the severe weather was already well east and pushing farther east as I scrambled to catch it. Some 20 miles away, the storm suddenly weakened below severe levels. The Nikon D5000 DSLR camera image above shows a line of strong--but no longer severe--storms in western Jackson County as seen from state highway 64 in southeast Jones County at 4:24 pm CDT.


My attention was quickly given to a new severe storm warning emanating from my weather radio, this one in Scott County to the south (see above Radarscope image). Thoughts here were the opportunity to salvage the venture. I drove east to Maquoketa, then south on US Highway 61, in an apparent intercept path.


About 15 minutes later this storm too detensified below severe levels and the chase was done. Yes, but not without drama--just north of Eldridge, Iowa on Highway 61 around 5:15 pm, the heavens opened and unleashed a torrent of rain (Go Pro Hero video frame capture above). At one point I could barely see where I was driving and braced for that dreaded crash from behind. Luckily it never came. Many cars, as seen in the image above, pulled over to the side of the road, but this was only slightly safer, or maybe not AS safe? This image was captured when the rain had actually slightly let up. The chase produced nothing significant in the 170 miles driven. Photos weren't even that great because the gray and grayer sky lacked much contrast. Wet wild goose chase!

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Two Bright Ones

Thursday, August 13, 2015


Ya snooze ya lose. The early morning hours of Wednesday, August 12, 2015 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa provided crisp, clear, weather conditions for the Perseids meteor shower, one day ahead of its peak. And indeed I went outside for a look and witnessed several bright meteors in the short time I was out there. Weather forecasts for the following few days called for the same, so I opted to photograph the shower during its "official" peak the following night. As I staggered outside after 3:15 am on Thursday, August 13, a high veil of cirrus clouds covered all but the brightest stars. Momentary letups in the cloud cover allowed for two of the only three meteor streaks I saw to be captured by my camera. The farthest left meteor in the image above was shot at 3:59 am (and combined with the image containing the other meteor), photographed at 4:04 am. The meteor's point of origin--the radiant--emanated from the namesake constellation Perseus, located out of the picture above. At right is the constellation Auriga. Image looks northeast from Bowman Woods Park in Cedar Rapids. It is a 30-second exposure at f/3.5, 500 ISO and 18mm focal length. Nikon D5000 DSLR camera.

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Fire And Rain

Monday, August 10, 2015




This rural Shueyville, Iowa bonfire, set ablaze for entertainment purposes for a large group of spectators, was timely. When the majority of the large blaze--whose smoke rose high into the evening sky--finally wound down, sprinkles then a steady rain began to fall which lasted all night and into the next morning. Raindrops in the nearby pond can be seen in the top image, captured at 8:52 pm CDT, Saturday, August 8, 2015. It is a one second exposure at f/13, 200 ISO and 38mm focal length. The middle image, shot at 8:53 pm, is a 6-second exposure at f/13, 200 ISO and 18mm focal length. Bottom image, photographed at 8:57 pm, is a one second exposure at f/8, 2000 ISO and 18mm focal length. Nikon D5000 DSLR camera.

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Tassels In The Sky

Friday, August 7, 2015




Passing storms clouds and clouds seen in the distance are offered in these images using a corn field as foreground piece. All three photos look east from Yucca Avenue, less than 2 miles east of Ainsworth, Iowa on the evening of Tuesday, July 28, 2015. The top image, captured at 7:18 pm CDT, includes the moon--three days before it reached its "Blue Moon" status. The middle image is dominated by a large rain shaft and was photographed at 7:25 pm. The bottom image, shot at 7:30 pm, frames a distant cumulus tower. Nikon D5000 DSLR camera.

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Up, Up and Away

Thursday, August 6, 2015




Seen here from Fay Clark Park in Hiawatha, Iowa, cumulus towers some 50 miles distant were rising into the fading sunlight on Sunday, August 2, 2015. Images look south and southeast. In the top image (8:02 pm CDT), the towers are nearly vertical. In the middle image (8:06 pm) they begin to interact with stronger winds aloft. Some of the structures are bent nearly horizontally in the bottom image (8:14 pm). Severe weather was occurring behind the towers, over 100 miles away near the Iowa/Missouri border. Nikon D5000 DSLR camera.

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Same Cell, Three Different Locations

Wednesday, August 5, 2015


This isolated storm cell, with its classic cumulonimbus characteristic, billowed upwards of 45,000 feet in south-central Poweshiek County Iowa on the evening of Sunday, August 2, 2015. Captured for this posting are images of the cell from three different locations. The image above was shot from Archer Drive and Bowhunter Drive in Marion, Iowa around 7:44 pm CDT. The cell was about 57 miles to the southwest.


 Location here was about 3.7 miles to the west of the top image, on Boyson Road over Interstate 380 in Hiawatha. Time was 7:55 pm.


Four minutes later and one mile farther west, captured from Fay Clark Park in Hiawatha. Nikon D5000 DSLR camera.

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Big Storms, Big View

Tuesday, August 4, 2015


This was an unexpected event. Forecasts had earlier predicted severe weather for NE Iowa and into Wisconsin on the afternoon of Sunday, August 2, 2015. Instead, storms began to fire up in SW Iowa
after 4:00 pm. I had actually driven from Cedar Rapids to near Dubuque in anticipation of predicted severe weather there. As the afternoon progressed, it was obvious this was not going to happen, so I returned home. As it turned out, spectacular photo ops were waiting for me only blocks away from home! The image above is a four-photo stitch, creating a panorama of a storm system visual that was actually a conglomerate of several cells. Taken from Archer Drive and Bowhunter Drive in Marion at 8:29 pm CDT, the distance from the left edge (SE sky) to the right edge (SW sky) was about 200 miles. Closer in, occupying the left part of the cloud system was a cell about 50 miles distant in Muscatine County. The middle (south) was another cell about equal distance in Louisa County and to the right was a third cell about 45 miles away in Keokuk County. The more distant line stretched some 125 miles from SW Iowa into northern Missouri. The severe cell in southwest Iowa spawned an EF1 tornado in Adams County around 6:25 pm.


Above is an enlarged area of the panorama image, showing the left (SE) flank of the storm line, also at 8:29 pm. Although the sun had set six minutes earlier, the cloud tops--some 45,000 feet high--still reflected its light. A decided shadow line, cast from terrain, can easily be seen in the images. Nikon D5000 DSLR camera.


This radar screen capture of the moment from the National Weather Service in Des Moines, shows all the cells and their positions from my spotting location.

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