It’s been a while since my last visit to our friends in Kansas. I need to get back and see them soon. Our first visit there was a dramatic one. We had gone to the movies to see War of the Worlds with Tom Cruise. At the beginning of that, there is a scene of what looks like lightning striking but it repeatedly hits the same place. In the film, that is noted as being unnatural. As we left the theater and drove home, a storm started raging around us. The lightning was striking frequently and seemed to be in the same places. Uh oh!
We got home and stayed inside as the storm reached its peak. I have always loved thunderstorms and this one was outstanding. I watched the lightning striking around us constantly. I decided to take some pictures. Photographing lightning is normally tricky to do. If it is dark, you can go for long exposures and hope to get the lightning in some of the shots. If you have a lightning trigger, you can let it do the work. In this case, you didn’t need either. I just shot out of the window and the chances were that there would be some lightning in the shot. It was crazy. Here are a couple of shots looking out of a bedroom window!
If you live in the Seattle to Tacoma area, you get familiar with the phrase “the mountain is out” or “in”. This refers to Mt Rainier which can be shrouded in cloud or out in the sun. As a 14,000’ mountain, it is the most obvious landmark around here. It also drives its own weather systems so the clouds on the mountain are always worth a look. Not so long ago, I was quite taken by the cloud development over the mountain which was a bit different to what I am used to seeing. The boat in the front was not helpful but I wanted to get a shot of the mountain so went for it.
My wait at Boeing Field for the 777X coincided with some very changeable weather. The wind was strong and gusty for the whole time but what started out as wet and dreary gradually cleared up to be a sunny end to the day. I shot a couple of 737s as well as some corporate jets. When the 737 Max 7 test aircraft came in, it was absolutely hammering it down and the plane was pretty obscured by the rain. When a Max 8 on a test flight came in later, things had cleared up quite a bit. It wasn’t sunny at that point but there was a hint of light improvement which was making the green protective film shine a little more. By the time the 777X came in, the sun was out!
The weather while we were in Jackson was rather variable. Our first day was pretty sunny but it clouded over and the second day had clouds constantly moving through. You would get patches of sun showing up periodically but it was generally overcast. As you looked to the hillsides surrounding the valley, there was hardly a moment when things were constant. Light might pick out the terrain briefly and then a cloud would roll in and obscure the view completely. There was always something different to see. Even though the conditions were not great, it was still gorgeous to watch the constant evolution.
One of the things I thought I knew about the Seattle area was that it didn’t snow very much. In our first winter here, we had one snowy day and it thawed very rapidly. This winter has been a bit different. We have had a couple of large storms come through. The area is not well prepared for snow and the steep grades are not good when things get slippery. Here are some shots from around our area during and after the snows.
The day I was flying out of Narita was not a good day for weather. Another typhoon was approaching and the rain ahead of the storm had reached us. I did initially visit the viewing terrace in the terminal but, as the rain started, I decided to head inside and go to the Delta lounge which has a great view of the runway and the ramp. It wasn’t long before the heavens opened. Departures reversed direction as the wind shifted.
The arriving jets were now throwing up huge clouds of spray as they selected reverse. Combined with the heavy rain already, they were pretty obscured. Editing the photos allows you to do a lot of work with the contrast to bring out more of the detail but the real view was surprisingly limited. Some of the shots are so hidden by rain that there is little that can be done with them. Departures also did a good job throwing up lots of water in their wake.
The amount of moisture in the air meant the inlets would often be fogged, even for the jets that were landing. Trailing vortices were showing on climb out and there was lots of vapor over the wings after takeoff. The only downside to all of this was that the cloudy background makes it harder to apprecaite the effects that were on show. It does show, though, that a rainy day is not necessarily one to be ignored from a photography perspective. You can sometimes get some interesting shots in conditions that seem very unappealing. (It doesn’t hurt to be shooting this from indoors in a warm and dry room with a ready supply of food and beverages.)
A trip to Snoqualmie Falls ended up being on a day that was not the greatest weather. We were hoping that it wouldn’t rain. When we got to the top of the Falls, it was getting pretty wet. However, it wasn’t raining. Instead, the spray from the glass was being driven up the cliff face towards us by the prevailing wind. It was then dropping on us. Head off down the trail a short way and we were dry again. Of course, that was little compensation when you were getting drenched at the overlook points!
When you first think of Los Angeles, you think of sun and warm weather. It is true that a lot of the time, this will be what you get in Southern California, but it is not always the case. On the first day of my trip down to LA, I had intended to get some flying in. The weather had other ideas. The cloud base was low and waves of rain were coming through the area. Just when the sun came out and you thought it was okay, another bunch of clouds would roll in and, if you didn’t get under cover quickly, you would get drenched by some torrential rain. This does, of course, provide for a shot of LAX that you don’t normally get!
My trip to Rainbow Canyon gave me plenty of time to enjoy the scenery as the jets only showed up infrequently. It was a cool and clear day on the whole but there were some times when clouds moved in. This caused me some concern since I didn’t want to wait for a long time and then have jets show up when the valley was socked in!
Fortunately, the clouds did not get in the way of the main focus of the trip. We did get some clouds drifting over the valley far below us. We also got little puffs of cloud working their way up the canyon. One bank of cloud rose out of the canyon and across the ridge on the opposite side from me. I watched it drift across the surface gradually obscuring areas that had been clear a moment before.
Another small cloud formation drifted up the canyon towards me. It was an isolated little cloud and it drifted in my direction and floated up over the edge of the ridge and to one side of where I was standing before it dissipated. Then it was all clear again and I could go back to waiting for the jets.
The appearance of a Gulfstream GIV is not something that would normally be sufficiently unusual to justify a trip out. However, this GIV was a bit unusual. It belongs to NOAA and they use it for tracking weather systems. It was operating out of Paine Field and I only got to see it once. It would launch and head out over the Pacific for six or seven hours before coming back. The return was always in the evening after dark so never an opportunity to get a shot. The rear radar installation is pretty conspicuous. However, the nose radar is also a modification. The radome is a different shape and the additional air data sensors around the radome may either be because of the change of shape or could be related to its mission.
Sadly, it departed to Florida before I could get a chance to see it on the ground. It would have been nice to see it close up (or even in halfway decent weather – not something I was given this time around) but that was not to be on this occasion.