Those Pesky Forecasts

July 08, 2020  •  Leave a Comment

When I'm not traveling, I tune in to the local weather early every morning without fail. This routine is somewhat laughable; I'm well aware forecasting is a bit of a crapshoot. The 8-day projection seems more like a random guess; it's typically a moving target. Even the current day's forecast often fails to unfold as predicted. Still, you'll find me peering intently at the future-cast. That said, I'm not completely gullible! If a photo shoot looks plausible, I consult my weather apps to see if there's any sort of agreement. (Currently on my phone: NOAA Weather, AccuWeather, MyRadar, Clear Outside, Willy-Weather - which I use mainly to check the wind forecast, and WeatherBug.)

Last week, I took Mr. Local Meteorologist at his word when he indicated I could expect towering thunderheads to develop over the mountains that afternoon. It's July, after all, and that sort of thing often happens in the Rocky Mountains during the summer months. I packed up my gear and pointed the vehicle toward Jackson Hole. 

Cumulus clouds were abundant. So far so good.

Needing a place from which I could photograph both the promised thunderheads and the storm I anticipated would follow, I passed through the park and continued on about 20 miles to the northeast. Approaching the Continental Divide, you pick up altitude; eventually there is a wonderful view back to the west of both the Teton Range and the valley below. This would be a great spot to capture whatever was going to develop.

Settling in to wait for the show, it became apparent the towering clouds weren't going to materialize. Though plentiful cumulus pillows hung around, they failed to climb higher in the sky. Rain developed and moved through the valley, but it wasn't "showy." When it did pass, the skies turned flat. 

I was committed to waiting it out. Besides, there are worse things to do than spend an afternoon/evening watching changeable skies over the Tetons! 

After a few hours, an alert rang through on my phone: heavy weather was headed in my direction with 50mph downdrafts expected. I could see it coming. The skies over the mountains were shaping up nicely. 

It moved quickly; I only had time to make two panoramics before the sky lost definition as the rain closed in on my position. Though the final image was initially processed in color, ultimately I felt that the progression of the storm was better emphasized in black and white. 

Not what was forecast. Not what I expected to see. Still a good day.

Buckle UpBuckle UpHeavy weather moves through Jackson Hole on an early summer afternoon. (Bridger-Teton National Forest, Wyoming)

 


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