Patience When Waiting for After Dark Lightning
After several hours trying to keep ahead of outflow dominate storms up in south-central Florida, I finally found my way back south into western Palm Beach County where a very impressive lightning storm lit up the Glades night sky.
I started in the late afternoon hours chasing up in Highlands County, and this is where the first round of west coast sea-breeze storms had developed and were slowly tracking southeastward. The storms pulsed up and down along this boundary for several hours displaying some interesting shelf cloud structures and gusty outflow winds, but my main goal of the day was to film lightning at sunset or after dark.
Don't Give Up Just Yet
I continued to stay ahead of the line in hopes of the gust front that was now well out ahead of the main convection would at some point interact with the breeze boundary further south in Palm Beach County moving northwestward towards Canal Point. I stopped in Port Mayaca to look over radar and surrounding visual mescoscale features and was not impressed. It felt really cool and dry to me, and the outflow winds from the north were blasting at time near 25-30 mph. I wasn't sure if it was worth sticking around with everything so liner and "outflow-ish" along with the loss of heating beginning.
I stayed put for about 30 minutes watching a mess of storms develop over the south end of Lake Okeechobee, but again nothing that screamed to get out my camera's. I opened up Radarscope once again to look over the data and this time switched the radar site over to the TPBI where I had a better view of the low-level features over western Palm Beach Co. Sure enough, there was another boundary slowly tracking over Canal Point and the cells over the lake were heading right for this area.
Summer Lightning Showtime
I quickly repositioned southeastward out into the sugarcane fields east of Canal Point, and boy did I have a great view. Things began developing quickly and the sun was now below the horizon, so at this point I'm feeling pretty stoked that I might get that lightning show after all. I was back in warm inflow air and the upward motion just to my west was amazing. I repositioned again further down highway 98 to give me a little wiggle room with the storm and stopped on a dirt road about 6 miles northwest of the Highway 98 and S.R. 80 intersection.
Here I setup my camera and tripod next to the car window, and this allowed me to remain in the driver seat while pulling the camera trigger out the window. This also kept me a little more safe from what ever might be roaming around in the cane fields and the approaching lightning strikes.
The lightning was in full on now, and extremely vivid (CG) cloud-to-ground strikes where all over my frame. I knew the updraft was just to my west and this window of opportunity to see all this visible strikes wouldn't last long. I kept shooting, and quickly checking exposures and then back to shooting. I couldn't believe the amount of CG's that were directly in from of me, and now thinking I should of setup for a timelapse. Ugh!
Keep It Safe and Respect The Lightning
I continued to shoot for another 10 minutes or so, and then the lightning began to overtake my location making it way to dangerous to continue capturing pictures. Just this past weekend a Miami resident and Pro Bass Angler was killed by lightning when fishing on Lake Okeechobee in a tournament. I didn't learn of this terrible news until just yesterday, and my thoughts are with Mr. Magdaleno and his family.
As much as I enjoy shooting lightning photography, I also always keep safety in mind first, and have great respect when in a thunderstorm environment. Please be carful out there this summer season listening for those thunder rumbles and seeking shelter right away.
It was an amazing evening for me, and I'm sure glad I didn't hang it up earlier in the day when it wasn't looking the best. Patience and persistence.