Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Lightning Strike

This image of a lightning strike was captured early in the 2007 summer season as it impacted somewhere to the north and west of downtown Albany. Thanks to the recent advent of free municipal WiFi, tracking thunderstorms through urban areas is more feasible than ever. This particular afternoon produced a broken string of severe weather stretching from as far north of as Glens Falls to a few miles south of the Capital District. These fast moving weather patterns are typical for this area in the summer months.

Live Doppler web loops are amazing in the fact that individual weather cells can be tracked in real time with projected storm paths,wind speeds, precipitation types, and amounts. This data allowed me to set up to capture some of the worst weather of the afternoon. In the intervening months, this image has taken on a life of its own, generating usage requests from local news media, weather buffs, and one Albany based hip-hop band. Currently, the image has been submitted for publication in various magazines.

It is no secret that I am a weather geek. The spare laptop in the R7 office is constantly on the Doppler loop of upstate New York and New England as I am always looking for heavy weather to shoot. I am the only person I know who actually finds the blogs on Accuweather interesting. Back when I was a competitive cyclist, I would take great care in studying the forecast and its possible deviations. There is nothing more sickening than being 70 miles from home, riding wide open farm roads, as the western horizon turns the color of a bruise. You know you are going to get hammered, and there is absolutely nothing that can be done but ride the miles home and hope for the best.

More than once I have had a stranger's car pull along side to shout reports of possible tornado sightings. This form of communication is insidious because there is absolutely no way of knowing if this person is an alarmist kook or a truly concerned Samaritan. Regardless, such rides amp up the stress level considerably and peg heart rate monitors into their upper zones. Post ride bullshit sessions were animated in the same sort of way soldiers coming off a mission are animated. In retrospect, some of those road and mountain rides are my fondest memories of riding and in many ways I miss them. I don't ride anymore. After too many near death experiences I can't bring myself to go out and battle SUV's on the roads of upstate New York. I still mountain bike, but not as much. I am a trail runner now. I love running in a way that I never felt about cycling but running is primarily a solitary sport and there are times when I miss the camaraderie of a hard ride in hot weather with a fast moving cumulonimbus on our heels.

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