A strong storm system approached the southwest yesterday and moved through the state overnight. Ahead of the storm, clouds began to increase just before sunset and I found myself at the Mormon Lake overlook. The cumulus clouds were fairly shallow so that the sunlight hitting the tops of the clouds was scattered downward and provided some diffuse lighting and color to the cloud bases.
There was also a thin gap between the clouds and the ground allowing for just a few minutes of direct sunlight.
Here are a few photographs of the sunset and clouds along with some sunlight spilling across the currently dry lakebed of Mormon Lake.
As the storm and cold front approached showers and thunderstorms quickly developed with a line of strong thunderstorms developing about an hour after sunset. There was quite a bit of lightning as the line of storms moved across the area. The sound of rain faded as it was replaced by snow falling in the wake of the front.
In the morning there was snow covering the ground. Measurements were difficult as strong winds during the night had blown the snow such that some areas had a few inches and other areas were bare.
The snow juxtaposed with autumn colors was very pretty but my favorite photograph was the snow on this cinquefoil that still has some flowers.
A late-season winter storm brought snow to the high deserts of northern Arizona. An early morning check of weather conditions indicated that Sedona airport (KSEZ) had reported snow. And satellite data showed an area of fog in the Verde Valley, including Sedona. This had the potential to be a great opportunity for photographs.
The early morning visit to Sedona was worth the effort. And the trip home included a stop at the recently re-opened Indian GardensÂ Cafe in Oak Creek Canyon.
After several days of heavy snow in the higher elevations we got a break in the weather. I was specifically interested in photographing snow in Wupatki National Monument. The park had reported a few inches of snow so I had hopes that some of it was still around.
I arrived at Wukoki Pueblo a few minutes before sunrise. There had been snow all the way down — even at the Visitors Center — but dropping that last bit of elevation to the pueblo was enough to have erased the snow cover to just a few patches. It wasn’t quite what I was hoping to see but was still interesting.
Here are a few images taken just after sunrise.
I returned home via Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument and captured this image of the cinder cone covered in new snow.
And now we have another snow storm approaching the area and January will end up with above normal snowfall amounts.
A few afternoons ago, I headed up to the South Rim of Grand Canyon. My hope was to catch the nearly-full rising Moon as it appeared from behind Cape Royal on the North Rim. I was successful last year and I wanted to try it again — and get it even better.
A winter storm was winding down and there were breaks in the clouds by mid afternoon. But the breaks didn’t happen in the right place or right time to capture the moon rising above Cape Royal.
So it was time to switch to the backup plan and I ended up photographing the clouds and fog that were moving across the canyon along with all the fresh snow on the South Rim.
I awoke before dawn on New Years Day and was greeted with clear skies and a crescent Moon with the planets Venus and Jupiter shining brightly in the eastern sky. I drove out towards Mormon Lake anticipating greatâ€”albeit very coldâ€”conditions for some sunrise snow photographs. On the way to the lake I encountered low clouds and patchy fog and there was nothing to be seen upon my arrival. It was already too close to sunrise to head back north or west so my only option was to wait and hope.
I missed the sunrise but about 20 to 30 minutes later the clouds cleared and the San Francisco Peaks were amazing. Low clouds and fog remained around the base of the peaks.
As the sun rose higher the side-lit rime ice on the wild grasses (i.e., weeds) at the Mormon Lake Overlook began to glisten and glow.
Temperatures were hovering in the low single digits and I was cold after standing around for about an hour. Time for breakfast and hot coffee.
The next day we hiked into West Fork Oak Creek knowing that the trail would be snow packed and there would be a dozen water crossings on iceâ€”hopefully solid enough to support us. After several days of below freezing high temperatures and near or sub-zero overnight temperatures we were hopeful for safe ice.
There are several locations where water drips down the cliffs even at these cold temperatures resulting in wonderful icicles and bizarre ice sculptures on the ground.
We hiked to the “end” of the trail where it enters a narrow, rock-walled section of canyon often called “The Subway.” This was our turnaround spot.
On the way up the canyon we had not run into any other hikers. What a treat!