While there’s “few” things that might pop out to others, for me, it’s Spring stormy nights.
I’ve been obsessed with tornadoes since I first saw Devon Sawa and John Schneider (Bo Duke) in Night of the Twisters.
If you’ve never heard of this 1996 classic, it’s based on a true story and weather phenomenon in Grand Island, Nebraska back in 1980 when seven tornadoes touched down in one night.
That's right. SEVEN!
As the 90s continued to produce films like Twister and so forth, my interest grew. My childhood homes' backyard was a cornfield (now Southpointe Mall in Lincoln), and I often sat outside watching the storms roll in with my Dad, brother and Mom.
For most of us Nebraskans we know the drill. A bright sun shining day, high of 80s following a day in the low 40s? Disaster. While getting a tan outside sounds like a. lovely idea, we know what’s to come by 5pm as the sun sets. Off go the sirens, pop goes the beer.
When the storms began to turn last night, I followed the routine. Unplug appliances, put on my running shoes (double lace), put the pups on a leash and tuck them in. That’s when my Dad sarcastically joked “Quick, grab the camera and head to the roof.”
He had a point...
I needed to work on my nature photography and lightning bolt skillset after all.
Instead of the roof, I chose to walk out beyond the front porch and stand on the drive. As tempestuous weather rolled over the horizon, the radio faded in and out with it's persistent reminder of a "Tornado warning" in Lancaster County and I gazed into the terror with delight.
"8:15pm is when it will be here," John said.
“Snap snap snap” my camera went as I desperately tried to get a perfect lighting bolt striking through my viewfinder. Again, I'm an amateur when it comes to this type of photography but it's enjoyable. Could I have easily taken my phone out and caught that perfect lighting bolt? Of course, but where's the fun in that?
I started with my 85 mm, thinking the bokeh would be decent. Way too much zoom. Ran back inside and backed down to the old nifty fifty. It was decent but not quite what I wanted. So I ran back inside, and decided to pop on my classic 70-200mm to my Canon Mark IV 5D body. I adjusted the zoom, skipped worrying about a tripod (there's no time for it at this point) and shot what I could while trying to capture the details and checking the sky above.
The sky was gorgeous. A beautiful golden sunset fading between the turbulent sky. The sun faded amongst the horizon and the clouds build.
If you're new to the world of tornadoes, a tornado is often made visible by a distinctive funnel-shaped cloud or rather. condensation funnel. The funnel cloud is a tapered column of water droplets that extends downward from the base of the parent cloud. Wall clouds rotate as your first warning sign of violent thunderstorms and show indication of the possibility of a tornado touching down within minutes or the hour. Wall clouds form under the rain base of cumulonimbus clouds and often turn a green tone as the weather generally turns around sundown. The water droplets reflect a blue light and reflect green light into our eyes, bouncing from the warm colors of the sunset.
A lightning strike struck horizontally.
Sliced and diced.
What is about lightning that is so deathly terrifying and wickedly satisfying just the same? The birds scatter, desperately seeking some short of shelter. A trucker flies down the highway, as if the weather is unbeknownst before their very eyes. Your eyes glued to the clouds, drifting closer and closer, creeping up before you. Consuming your entire being and home. I set down the camera, packed up and head in. This was the last call for happy hour.
The storm consumes every window pain within your home, taunting itself just above. There's a faint hush as the wind hollows through every crack of the house.