A shelf cloud at the Painted Desert appears during the monsoon

The Arizona monsoon delivered a beauty this summer with a shelf cloud at the Painted Desert. Add in one lightning strike and you have the icing on the storm chasing cake. Such a thing of a beauty to see!

Shelf Cloud at the Painted Desert

The past two years I have ventured north with my buddies Bryan Snider and Scott Wood for a day of chasing in the high plains of northern Arizona. It is a welcomed change of landscape during the monsoon. Our normal stomping grounds for chasing is usually the southern end of the state with a few chases out on the western side. Getting up to the high plains area around the Painted Desert offers a totally different chase experience. With the vast wide openness of the area, you get the feel of what it is like to chase in the midwest. Visibility for miles and miles.

What makes a storm chasing trip extra special in this area is of course the surreal landscape that makes up the Painted Desert. Not only do you have wide open views but you also get some very interesting colors in the rock formations. The colors are simply amazing.

Bryan, Scott, and I stayed at this location for quite some time as the storm delivered several good strikes. All three of us were time lapsing this amazing cloud structure as it developed. Thinking back on this day I did have some frustration with the lightning trigger I was using. It was missing out on some of the strikes as Bryan and Scott were happily catching them. Grrr. I have since then upgraded to a new model and hope next year’s chasing will be even better for capturing daytime strikes. No sense in letting Bryan and Scott have all the fun.

Lightning at the Painted Desert

I’ll close with another lightning strike from the same location. The curling action in this one is wild.

Lightning at the Painted Desert