Was in the Aurora area of Denver yesterday afternoon when I heard the tornado sirens go off. Severe thunderstorm was brewing a couple miles southeast of me and wasn’t moving. Bored, after working all day, and sweating in the afternoon heat, I’m not sure why I hesitated to chase it down, but I did. Drove into it, trying not to rearend the cars in front of me while staring at the sky.
Found a high spot in a parking lot, where in the east purple clouds sat as far as I could see. Above my head and toward the west, the clouds spun and churned and boiled, fast enough to follow their motion with my naked eye. The sirens went off again. I got out my camera.
Took some time lapse photos and put them in this youtube video (which starts with a couple earlier shots I played with in Idaho Springs the day before. It’s pretty shaky because I need a remote and timer, but for amateur work it was pretty fun).
I need a wider lens to really capture the magnitude and motion of the storm. But what I got was good. And for a while later as the clouds blurred together again and inched back east, I sat on the back trunk of my car and watched them. From the south a line of rain and hail and lightning was slowly coming at me, which is where I decided I might grab a bit of fast food for dinner and take in a show.
The lightning began fast and the rain fell hard and lasted the next four or five hours. The lightning fell so frequently I found I could easily take a dozen photos with my iphone alone, without cheating the aperture and shutter speed to delay for a few seconds to take in all the lightning. I’m sure it was no midwest storm, but it was possibly one of the best I’ve ever experienced, and I was glad I got my camera and my car and sat back to watch.
This trip has been funny. Stressful. Already I’m fighting off a pretty focused cold, I’d prefer an apartment, and deadlines are beginning to loom on the writing. But I find myself smiling and laughing a lot. I’ll jump back into my car with my SLR during a dry spot when the wind has settled and the rain has stopped and I’ll sit there, laughing, looking like a crazy person. Half of it is a kind of nervous laughter, a stress finally boiling over, the sheer ridiculousness of it, the hopelessness, the excitement, the fun. So be it then.
And at night I still toss and turn and stretch my legs out at funny angles. But falling asleep to the sound of hail and lightning like paparazzi flashbulbs–it’s like watching the game from the mound.