This awe-inspiring photo of storm clouds and lightning, by Joe Randall, was featured on NASA’s Astronomy Photo of the Day website last week. The image was captured over Colorado and consists of around eighty stacked photographs.
Helicopter Reporter Jerry Ferguson (with help from Pilot Andrew Park took these unbelievable photos earlier this week while filming the weather for a local television station. No, it is not an A-bomb detonated over Phoenix. The photo depicts a dangerous weather phenomenon known as a microburst.
Microbursts are small but powerful rushes of rain-cooled air that collapse toward the ground from a parent thunderstorm. They are basically like a tornado in reverse – while a tornado funnels wind in and up, a microburst’s wind is funneled down and out. Microbursts are created by the downdrafts found in strong thunderstorms and are triggered by two main physical processes — the drag that’s created by falling rain and hail, and evaporation. Once the downdraft hits the ground, the wind — with gusts up to 150 mph — spread out over the land in all directions.
Below is a timelapse video of the same storm shot by Bryan Snider from the vantage point of Phoenix’s Sky Harbor International Airport. The rainshafts in this footage make it look like Mother Nature turned on a faucet.
As an official member of the Cloud Appreciation Society, photos like these make me swoon. These shots are from Ecuador Airlines pilot Santiago Borja. The first was captured through a Boeing 767-300 cockpit window at 37,000 feet over the Pacific Ocean. The second was taken last October along the coast of Venezuela.
In the Washington Post, Borja explained the obstacles he met when taking these types of photos. “Storms are tricky because the lightning is so fast, there is no tripod and there is a lot of reflection from inside lights,” he said. Turbulence and near darkness also added complications to the shot.
On Saturday evening several parts of the Denver metro area experienced a quick but rather violent hail storm. So I decided to make the best of it and make some Hail Stone Cocktails. I simply mixed lemonade, lemon pellegrino, gin, muddled mint, and hail. Garnish with a sprig of basil and enjoy.
There has been some debate on reddit as to how safe drinking this cocktail is. I can only tell you that it didn’t make me sick and it tasted great. I’m venturing to guess that the most dangerous ingredient was the gin, not the hail. But that is coming from a guy who has eaten watermelon snow on several occasions.
This is what my street could look like according World Under Water. It is a Google Maps powered website (Chrome only) that it lets you pick any Street View location and see what it will look like after sea levels have risen. The site was created to bring awareness to World Environment Day on June 5. Unfortunately it uses the same effect for every location and the sea level doesn’t change depending on your geography. Regardless, it’s an admirable idea and the illusion is fairly believable.
Rain Room is a hundred square metre field of falling water through which it is possible to walk, trusting that a path can be navigated, without being drenched in the process.
As you walk into the man-made rainfall 3D cameras pickup on your presence, location and movement. The Cameras then send instructions for the rain continue to fall close to people, yet not too close, as they intersect the space. The fact that somebody created a gigantic indoor torrential downpour is cool. But the ability to walk through the deluge without getting the slightest bit wet is outstanding. The installation runs until March and doesn’t cost a penny (pence). I wish I were in London to see it.
All photos courtesy of Oli Scarff
This is a photo taken from above a lightning storm over West Africa by André Kuipers during an extended stay aboard the International Space Station. Lightning storms are a common sight for those on the space station. There are many millions of lightning flashes on Earth everyday. Considering that the ISS orbits Earth 16 times a day you can bet the IIS crew gets quite a show.