The Nebraskan Night

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An expansive shelf cloud at sunset near North Bend, Nebraska. June 28th, 2014.

This was not expected to be a night for storm chasing. In fact, I started the day in central Kansas and was planning on checking into a hotel in Lincoln, NE and calling it a night. I took a look at radar and noted a few weak storms developing to the northwest. Since I had checked in early, which doesn’t often happen, I figured I had nothing to lose, so I got in my car and headed north. If I saw something, great. If not, I wouldn’t have to drive far and I could prepare for the next day. Since June in Nebraska had already been kind of magical, there was little surprise that this could end up being a very productive night.

Storms began to merge into a line and even from a fair distance away, I could see a developing shelf cloud to the north. As I zeroed in, the shelf cloud began more prominent and the structure was very well-defined. With daytime waning and storms approaching a forested area along the Platte River, there wasn’t much time left.

I found a good spot to pull over in North Bend and what a sight. An expansive, slow-moving shelf cloud was blending with the sunset to create a colorful scene. The scene only got more dramatic as the time of sunset approached, with orange and yellow colors getting deeper, contrasting with the storm structure. The storms themselves had a history of producing large hail, so as the shelf cloud eventually moved overhead, it was time to book it.

That wasn’t all though. I pulled off the road, maybe 10 to 15 minutes later, to watch the storm. I found myself in a quiet and dark field, which was starting to get lit up more and more by fireflies. What really made the mood complete was the shelf cloud and thunderstorms hovering to the north. These storms were slow-moving all night, which was nice, because you could stay in one area and watch them for what seemed like forever.

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A delayed shutter photograph of myself in front of a supercell thunderstorm. Rural eastern Nebraska, June 28th, 2014.

I eventually drifted back south to watch the storms some more and took a few more photos. The structure was epic, as storms were towering tens of thousands of feet in the air, but you wouldn’t know it until there were flashes of lightning to light up the sky. It was quite a night and one of the first times all season that I could actually spend such a long period of time just watching storms. Consider that I almost stayed in at the hotel and this was one of the more unexpected storm “chases,” if that’s the right word, of the season to-date.

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Quincy

Quincy is a meteorologist and storm chaser who travels around the country documenting and researching severe weather. He has on-air experience with stations such as WTNH-TV in New Haven, CT and WREX-TV in Rockford, IL. He was most recently a digital meteorologist for weather.com. After achieving his B.S. degree in Meteorology at Western Connecticut State University (WCSU) in 2009, he returned as a University Assistant to help produce weather broadcasts. He also gave guest lectures and worked on website design. He has over nine years of professional weather forecasting experience and his forecasts have been featured in newspapers and on radio stations in multiple states.

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