And so the last day of our Monsoon Season was here and we were going for an unprecedented 12 chase days from 12 for Storms trying to Outdo the 2011 Season. After scrutinising the Models for hours it was becoming clear that only Spotty Storm would happen during the day so I told our crew that we would not be heading out until 530pm today and it was a day at Leisure. NAM was the most Bullish along with the UOA WRF with HRRR being very meagre with storms tonight. I went with a blend of the 3 Models and chose South Mountain as the target with the Option to get off there and move North or South if needs be. We had to be through the gate by 7pm or you miss the boat, the Rangers have relaxed the getting off the Mountain as well so if we struck it lucky like 2011 down near Mount Lemmon it could be an amazing Send Off.
We got to the Gila Valley Lookout which affords North, East and South views before Sunset and waited, 4G Signal up there is Superb being so close to the Antennas so we waited and waited and waited, we had taken some food and drink up there so we watched the sunset and started to see the first meaningful blips start to appear on radar and the first distant Cg was seen around 745pm at a range of 78 miles to the East. The Storms were sliding SSW so we needed the Outflow from these initial storms to kick things off further North and North West which they duly did.
The First Storm to Impact the Eastern Valley within 10 miles of us started to put out some really nice Bolts ahead of the rain and the first 2 were captured by Stuart Wilson Below. Highway 60 is seen heading straight East which was a good guide for Direction.
This Storm started to move more to the WSW and actually got to within 3 miles of us literally we had ringside seats and the Cg’s were still raining down. These again from guest Stuart Wilson looking ESE just South of Tempe and moving into the Maricopa Valley near Queen Creek.
And one of the Best Shots of the Night and Trip below from Stuart
All while this was going on the Storm that was to our North East had gained a Severe Warning and thi was was barreling straight at us so we only had a limited time left on the Top of a Mountain overlooking Phoenix, 2 reasons we needed to get down were dangerous Lightning and also we started to spot Power Flashes and a really Strong Haboob heading straight for us which looked like it was over the Scottsdale Direction. I managed to get some really nice shots of Lightning in front of the Haboob as well.
As you can see above the Haboob was racing towards us and not wanting to be on a steep mountain road with drop offs in zero visibility we made our way down and headed NE punching through the Storm, blinding Cg lightning crashing around the car and flooded roads greeted us back on the Desert Floor. After heading back to Mcdowell Road I headed to a favoured viewpoint looking West towards the Buildings of Downtown Phoenix and seeing as we were on the back end of the Storm the Rain was light enough for us to shoot in the dry with some amazing Anvil Crawler Cg Bolts raining down the west side of the storm which was now to our East. I am very happy with the way these came out as well below.
And Finally the last shot of the 2018 Monsoon Season was just to my North, I had noticed a few Tower Lightning shots occuring where the Lightning starts from a Radio Mast and then crawls upwards and across the Sky, whilst I never got 1 of those this one was really nice and a fitting end to our trip.
Thank you for Following and we really look forward to bringing you more Monsoon Action in 2019. This Season ranks as number 1 on my list from the 7 Times I have been chasing in Arizona.