A foggy night in northern Arizona

It’s still the rainy season but this is silly. The amount of rain that has fallen in Bellemont, Arizona, in August is quickly approaching eight inches. Meanwhile, a few miles away at the Flagstaff airport, a more reasonable two and one-half inches has fallen this month. Most of that rain in Bellemont has fallen in the past few days. As a result, the ground is fairly saturated and there is plenty of standing water. This produces good conditions for nighttime fog in the area.

Fog during the pre-dawn morning hours.
Fog during the pre-dawn morning hours.

The first image was taken well before sunrise with plenty of stars visible. More striking, however, is the patch of fog and low clouds on the right — nicely illuminated by the lights.

Early morning fog creeping down the hillside.
Early morning fog creeping down the hillside.

The next image was taken shortly after sunrise and shows the fog lurking on the hills above the flats of Bellemont. The trees poke out through the top and the light poles add some foreground texture to the image.

Lightning and Mammatus: The beauty of thunderstorms

The North American Monsoon is bringing thunderstorms to the southwest United States including northern Arizona. You would think that with almost daily thunderstorms it would be easy to shoot great images of lightning and thunderstorms. Well, not always…

One of the characteristics of the rainy season in the higher elevations of northern Arizona is that as the storms develop in the late morning or early afternoon it quickly becomes overcast so that it is difficult to see the individual storms. It is equally difficult to photograph lightning because it is often raining over large areas obscuring the view of the lightning.

Lightning in Sunset Crater National Monument.
Lightning in Sunset Crater National Monument.

So I was particularly pleased when we had two days in a row in which I was able to photograph lightning and actually see the thunderstorms. The lightning was photographed in Sunset Crater National MonumentĀ overlooking the Bonito Lava Flow; the mountain that it is striking is O’Leary Peak. There is a fire lookout station at the summit of the peak and I’m certain they get their fair share of close bolts.

Sunset colors on an Arizona thunderstorm.
Sunset colors on an Arizona thunderstorm.

The following day proved equally photogenic. This thunderstorm was photographed in late afternoon and is quite dramatic with mammatus clouds visible from the anvil region of the storm.

If only everyday was as photogenic as these two.