Monday, August 1, 2016

Storm Clouds

It doesn't rain much here in New Mexico.  The average annual rainfall in Albuquerque is about 9.5 inches.  Compare that with Seattle (36.15) or Boston (43.77).  So when it rains out here, it's a big deal, even when it's a small amount -- and it's usually a small amount.

Moreover, the rain often comes in the form of very localized storm cells, rather than the blanket overcast most people associate with rain.  And on some occasions, those storm cells bring awesome looking cloud formations.  Here's one from July 21:

For scale/size estimates, the mountain peak at the far right of the image is about 10,600 ft. elevation, and the base of the mountain is at about 5,000 ft.  And the portion of the mountain you see in this image is about 5 miles long.  So I would guess the storm cloud to be about 8-10 miles in diameter, and maybe 1-2 miles high.

It never moved in our direction, so we got no rain out of it.  But last Friday (July 29), a storm cell began to form northwest of our area and in the space of about 45 minutes passed right over us.

This image is looking directly north, and you can see the core of the cell beginning to form in the lower left corner of the sky.

4:30 pm  MT

In just a few minutes, the core developed more definition and was moving in our direction as the spreading clouds ahead of it began to obscure the sun:

4:34 pm MT

Ten minutes later, the core had evolved multiple layers and was moving closer:

4:44 pm MT

4:47 pm MT

4:49 pm  MT

As usual, there was lightning ahead of the core, so at this point I retreated to the house.  About 20 minutes later, the leading edge of the core appeared overhead, preceded by wind and dust.  The image below looks ESE, and the storm front is moving in from the left (north).

5:13 pm MT

A few minutes later, it was pouring down rain.  Here's what the underside of that massive storm core looked like, looking straight up from our back yard:

5:15 pm MT

And here's what it looked like on the local TV station radar about 15 minutes later, after the core had passed over us:

5:31 pm MT
(We live northwest of Albuquerque -- on the map above, very near where those two roads intersect just below the B in "Bernalillo.")

Two and a half hours later, the storm was all gone:

7:58 pm MT

8:00 pm MT

And for all that sturm und drang, we were blessed with a whole 2/10ths of an inch of rain!

If you would like to see these images in a larger format, please visit my photography website, Todos Juntos Photography, by clicking here.