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Tonight I was reminded of how hard it is to find Arizona lightning. I have always said that capturing it on camera is the easy part, its finding it that is the hard part. That was most certainly proven in tonight’s storm chase.
Arizona Lightning Image
As the day progressed I was routinely checking the thunderstorm outlook for southern Arizona. Late in the day the percentage chance had improved warranting a storm chase. I packed up and headed out the door with fellow storm chaser Bryan Snider. The radar showed a strong thunderstorm rolling in off the Mogollon Rim tracking its way south west. By all accounts this would be a home run night. Highway 60 would lead us straight east towards the city of Superior where we would just sit and wait for the approaching storm. Arizona lightning goodness would be had!
Of course nothing ever goes as planned. Storm chasing is always a crap shoot. Yes, you have fancy radar apps for your smart phone and yes you can read weather reports but in the end it is still a crap shoot. This storm was delivering lightning strikes but it never came across the mountain range like it should. We were left with only a taste of what was happening. The rain front was preventing us from getting closer and there were no additional highways to travel on. We were out of luck. Arg!
Sometimes things pay off and you end up at the right spot at the right time. When that happens, you get an amazing Arizona lightning show. Another thing that helps is getting an early start on your planned location for storm chasing. A lot of our storms occur down by Tucson which is roughly a hour and half drive for me. Leaving at 5:30pm after the day job makes it tough to be in position.
Regardless the thrill of the chase and the potential payoff makes it all worth while.