Storm Highway by Dan Robinson
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                   Wednesday, July 23, 2008 - 6:31AM

Tuesday evening shelf cloud

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A line of thunderstorms moved in from the south-southeast out of eastern Kentucky, which is a somewhat unusual direction to see a storm move into Charleston this time of year. I had been doing heavy yardwork all afternoon, taking a break every once in a while to check radar. I didn't plan on observing unless something good came within 20 miles or so of town. The storms weakened rapidly before they arrived in Charleston - but this is not always a bad thing photogenically speaking, as a collapsing storm complex will often develop a nice shelf cloud on the leading edge of the outflow. That's what happened on this occasion. As I piled the last of the tree branches I just cut on the back fence, I saw this coming in, grabbed the DSLR and walked up onto the cemetery hill. My video cameras were locked in the car, and since I didn't feel like walking all the way down there for this, I just stuck with stills. I was exhausted from cutting and moving branches in the 90 degree heat for several hours, and the outflow arriving from this felt great! In this first image, my house is actually visible in the extreme lower left. I cut down a half dozen small trees around the perimeter of the backyard and trimmed the branches on the larger ones this week, which resulted in this being the first storm image that my house is actually visible in. These four images are 5 to 8 frame panoramas assembled with Autostitch.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

The lightning was OK, but remained sporadic and distant. With the full daylight, only reaction-type exposures were possible. Even then, the distant bolts and bright sky resulted in poor contrast with any lightning. In these two shots you can barely make out the lightning.

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