The final full day for the Tour 6 group was June 19th, and there was nothing to chase between Plankington, SD, and Ogallala, NE, via Grand Island. On the 20th we had the group back to Denver, and on the 21st the new Tour 7 group, with Tempest guide Kelly Delay, was ready to hit the road. There was a chance for severe weather well up into South Dakota on the 21st, but I elected to go for convection which was expected along Interstate 80 in western Nebraska. Storm towers developed in northern Weld County, CO, and we patiently monitored these from west of Peetz. The storm bases were high and there was little organization. The long dirt road towards the precip area was much more photogenic than the clouds.
The activity built to the north and east a bit, and as sunset approached we were watching a high-based storm with some occasional lightning near Lewellan, NE. A shelf cloud feature, or perhaps the front end of a high-based rotating storm, developed along the western end of Lake CW McConaughy. This was looking nice as the low-angle sunlight and colors improved, and CG brilliant lightning was occasionally teasing us. We had a great opportunity to photograph some spectacular lightning against the colorful and stormy western sky, but I had to find a decent spot to set up that wasn’t going to soon be wet, or too dangerous to set up because of the lightning. We headed east along 92 on the north side of the lake (I’m not going to type out that lake name more than once —- we’ll call it by its nickname: “Big Mac”). The road went up and down the hills and gullies and we passed by a bunch of marinas and beaches. Nothing here seemed to have good views back to the west, darn it.
Well, I knew that there was an excellent spot for views to the west up ahead. This spot was on the dam on the east end of Big Mac. But, it was still another 10 or 15 miles ahead, and the good light wasn’t going to last forever. We finally reached Route 61, on the east end of the lake, with the dam “overlook” site a few miles to the south. The light and the clouds and the lightning were too good RIGHT NOW, however! We stopped near the intersection for a minute, but then headed north a mile or so to the top of a hill with good views to the north and the west. This worked out pretty well! The light on the storm to the northwest was fantastic, but there wasn’t much lightning in that direction.
There was plenty of lightning to the west and southwest, though! I had the camera on the tripod, set the shutter speed at about 3 to 5 seconds, and had no trouble catching lightning in the frame for at least half of the shots! Unfortunately, the really nice sunset colors were winding down and were more to the northwest than to the southwest. I bet that the views from the dam overlook were not too shabby, either!