This past Sunday was filled with a road trip that allowed me to get lightning at the Petrified Forest. It was my 2nd annual trip with fellow photographers Scott Wood and Brian Snyder.
Massive Lightning Strike at the Petrified Forest
Sunday marked my “annual” trip to the Petrified Forest / Painted Desert area of Arizona for some storm chasing. The high desert of north east Arizona is an amazing area to storm chase. It offers the wide open vastness of being on the plains of the midwest yet still giving that southwest flair. A perfect combination.
Our trip began in Phoenix as Bryan Snider offered up his fuel sipping Prius to be our mode of transportation for the day. Getting over 40mpg has its advantages on a day where you will be driving over 400 miles. We always give Bryan some grief on his Prius, but I have to admit I’m envious of that gas mileage. My double cab Tacoma gets about 19mpg on its best day.
Bryan and I were joined by our friend Scott Wood for the journey. We did this trip last year when Scott was in AZ for a business trip so we decided to do it again this year. A tradition is born!
As our day unfolded a nice little rain shaft accompanied by lightning showed up on radar which turned out to be our first storm intercept. We pulled off of I40 slightly west of the Petrified Forest and set up our gear.
In the image above Scott and Bryan are set up and waiting for the lightning to come! We managed a few shots and a time lapse from this location before we would head out. A little funny story about this location: I could see the rain line coming in at us and I made a comment “we’ve probably got about 5 minutes at most before the rain gets here”. Well about 1 minute later we were getting soaked and running for the car. Ahh good times storm chasing.
The highlight of the day came with the featured image shown at the top of the post. As we were driving south through the park a massive storm cell popped up right in front of us. This storm would generate a beautiful shelf cloud as it rolled right past us. And of course no monsoon storm is complete without some lightning.
We finished out the day and made our way back for Phoenix. I would get home at 1am that evening only to wake at 6am to get ready for work. Brutal!
If you are passing through Arizona be sure to squeeze this national park in on your itinerary.
Buy the featured image at my gallery!