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November 10th, 2012 - Aurora, NE Severe Line

Really hadn't planned on chasing this day until about the day before. People had been talking about the long-range models for about a week in advance and how it had potential, but I hardly bothered looking into it. It was November, it would take something good to get me out the door lol. Had thought about just saving my money for better spring setups, but models had been fairly consistent in showing that this would be a relatively close-to-home chase. And after getting things organized between Tyler, Cody, and I, it became apparent that this chase could be done on a limited budget as well. So, why the hell not. SPC even upgraded the tornado risk to 5% the morning of, so we had that going for us.

Cody had to get some stuff with his car sorted out, so we didn't leave Omaha until about a quarter after 2pm. Keep in mind sun sets just after 5pm this time of year lol. Luckily our target wasn't far. Made good time to Lincoln, where we met up with Tyler at his apartment and headed out. There was already a cu field visible on satellite near Kearney, but it was screaming north. There was no way we could catch that. We just hoped that stuff would continue to develop in north-central Kansas and south-central Nebraska. Honestly glad we weren't there, because we could have been suckered into flying north with a field of showers that never really produced anything.

By the time we got out there, it was already apparent that stuff was going to fall to the same fate as that initial field of towering cu. Nicely-spaced little nothing storms that were racing to the north-northeast. Stuff started to get pretty congested as more fired. We worked our way back north to I-80 after dropping south near Sutton, NE and messing around for a while. We finally started to head west as we picked out what appeared to be the best "storm" available. You basically had your choice of a million blips lol. Passed a couple that were north of us as we continued west. As you can see, they weren't much to photograph. Maybe a tiny rounded base back in there, but that's about it.

Yawn. About what I'd expect from chasing in November.

Got to the storm we had been eyeing for about half an hour and of course once we're on it, it craps out. Didn't even bother stopping for photos lol. We decided the best move would be to get back out ahead of the field of storms before they merged into a line. Took the Aurora exit off of I-80. The light actually started to look pretty cool, so we raced to find a spot to set up before it faded completely. Found a road just south of Interstate and waited as a storm base (which really wasn't on radar) began to reveal itself to the southwest.

Contrast improved rapidly as the base moved more directly to the west in front of the glowing precip. This thing had been dropping CGs as we got into position, but hadn't put down a real good one since we set up. But right about when the sunset lighting peaked...


Got lucky as a massive CG crashed to the west. It's like it composed itself in the frame. Not often when lightning actually cooperates, so you've got to celebrate the little victories.

On radar the thing was just a weak little line segment trying to be a storm, but in person it looked like a rounded supercell trying to organize.

Had to get a shot with the tractor parked in the field next to us. Kept hoping for another bolt, but you can only get lucky once. You can see how quickly the good light was starting to fade.

Nebraska at its finest.

Now looking to the northwest as the storm continued north-northeast. All of these images (from the first sunset glow one to the shot below) were taken within 5 minutes of each other, so that should give you some indication as to how fast these things were moving.

The not-so-super-cell. Still, looked pretty decent considering the time of year!

Hoping to keep up with this storm, we got back on Interstate and headed east to the next exit. By the time we got off though, the storm was really too far north to bother going after. Sat in the car and waited as another small storm overtook us from the southwest. Eventually the clouds cleared and there was a pretty cool scene looking over interstate.

The line finally got organized, but it was training to the NNE instead of progressing eastward. The shelf ahead of it was lame and really not worth shooting, nor were there any CGs, so we got impatient and punched through it. Had some torrential rains and pea-sized hail, but really nothing too dangerous. The thing was a constant strobe though. When the sky finally cleared on the backside, we could finally see why.

Near-constant cloud-to-cloud bolts on the backside. This severe line was like a giant wall of light!

Finally, I got my stars-over-lightning-lit-towers op, which I had been talking about earlier in the day. Unfortunately, it was freaking freezing. Never thought I'd be shooting storms and lightning in conditions like this lol. Air temp around 40, with the windchill well below freezing since there were constant gusting winds. Glad I brought my sweatshirt even though it was about 80 when we left Omaha. Shot one frame straight up where you could see the fainter part of the Milky Way trying to peak out.

Was initially ecstatic when I saw this on my LCD. I had caught a meteor!! -not. Turns out it was just an exceptionally bright iridium flare (satellite).

Took a short timelapse/star trail as the line progressed eastward. Here's one frame from that sequence. Guess the wind bumped my tripod, hence the messed up trails. D'oh.

That was about the last cool scene of the day. Intercepted the shelf in front again just before we got back to Lincoln. Looked cool visually, but really didn't come out in photos.

All in all though, I really can't complain! Split between 3 people, I only spent about 20 bucks. Just saying you chased in November and got usable stuff is worth it, and heck, I got my best daytime lightning shot to-date! Temperatures the following night dropped below freezing, and we failed to get out of the low 30s the next day. Winter is definitely here now lol. I'm just glad mother nature gave photographers like me one last chance to shoot a storm before the endless cold and boring-ness sets in!

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