Storm Highway by Dan Robinson
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                   Sunday, June 27, 2010 - 1:08PM CDT

Chicago lightning chase #6

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HD EXPEDITION VIDEO: Lightning over downtown Chicago

Another trip to Chicago for lightning this weekend. This has been a pet subject of mine that I've been working on for 4 years now (links to previous trips here and here). It's also been one of the more frustrating and difficult ones. I seem to have a knack for choosing to not go the days when epic lightning happens, and choosing to go when the storms are not cooperative. I decided against a trip earlier in the week due to models showing storms initiating to the south and east of the city. To my dismay, they fired to the west and passed over downtown with incredible upward lightning (hitting all three major skyscrapers) that made huge news around the world. Still feeling the sting of missing that, I went ahead and jumped on this weekend's setups, which turned out to be total disappointments. The MCS activity simply fired too far west (over western MN), and didn't make it far enough east before losing their characteristics that made them favorable for upward lightning.

I did get one round of nighttime storms just before dawn on Saturday morning, but these were also not very cooperative. Not one upward discharge event. You can hear on the video that my DSLR has a one-second delay in between 10-second exposures - and two of the three nice anvil crawlers behind the city happened during that little gap! Hopefully I can figure out why it's doing that soon, apparently the odds are somehow in favor of it missing lightning even though it's getting 91% open-shutter time coverage.

click to enlarge

This was a fairly close CG in the middle of the storm's core of heavy rain (blocking the view of the city here). The attachment point to the building it hits is visible, but the rain is so heavy you can't really see anything remarkable. Another example of lightning not striking the highest object, as the Sears Tower is just behind and to the right of this bolt (maybe less than a half mile away).

click to enlarge

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Lightning types
Anvil crawlers, bolts from the blue, sheet, ribbon and bead lightning. Learn how to identify each!
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