. . . and then, in dreaming,
The clouds methought would open and show riches
Ready to drop upon me, that when I waked
I cried to dream again.
-- Shakespeare, The Tempest, III, ii
Among the many wonders of the Land of Enchantment are the open sky and the huge vistas that enable you to see weather coming and going. And another wonder are the clouds themselves -- when they are around at all. I have never seen such amazing clouds as I have seen in New Mexico.
On the first day of June, in the early evening, I was treated to all of these wonders as a small storm moved from north to south down the Rio Grande valley -- across the sky, over my head, and away.
About 6:30pm I realized something was coming when I looked out toward the Sandia Mountains to the east and saw an ominous array of clouds to the northeast (left side of the image below).
When these storms move through, the wind comes first, kicking up columns of dust ahead of the rain:
(It has been my experience, both in Oklahoma and New Mexico, that Oscar Hammerstein got the sequence backwards in the lyrics for "Oklahoma." Out here the wind doesn't come "right behind the rain;" it comes right before the rain.)
Although I couldn't tell until after it passed over me, the wind and the rain were associated with two different cloud banks. As noted above, the wind clouds came first.
Here's the wind cloud bank. The photo looks east, so the cloud bank is an east-west line of clouds moving from left to right (from north to south):
You can see the dust being blown up in the lower right side of the image (the leading edge of the wind), and the rain coming along behind in the lower left side of the picture.
You might also notice the laughing, jester-like face of one of the wind gods looking to the left in the upper half of the image.
Then the wind cloud bank moved over us. This image looks north, so you can see the trailing edge of the wind cloud bank overhead at the top of the picture, and in the lower portion of the picture, the next (rain-bearing) cloud bank coming toward the camera.
As the wind cloud bank moved south, there was a gap between it and the rain cloud bank, and suddenly I could see how huge the first cloud bank really was:
And as it continued moving south, I could also see how high and complex the clouds were above the underside:
Now, looking east, I could see the back of the first (wind) bank and the front of the second (rain) bank:
After a few minutes, the first cloud bank had moved further south, leaving the second cloud bank to pour its contents onto the mountain and the valley (while we, further west, got nothing):
Then, of course, the sun came out and a rainbow appeared:
As the sun set, the storm moved away . . .
and the last direct light cast a peaceful glow on the mountains:
As you can see from the time notations on the photos, the whole event lasted about 90 minutes.
If you would like to see these images (and more) in a larger format, please visit my photography website, Todos Juntos Photography, by clicking here.