Bolt from the blue (w-882-30)

In gallery: Photos of the month (2007)
Related photos: Lightning

On August 8 the weather in New Mexico was quite boring storm-wise due to a very dry atmosphere at mid-levels. Almost no cumulus succeeded in becoming a storm, and those that did manage quickly dissipated.

This changed in the evening as the atmosphere destabilized due to radiative cooling at high altitude. A few storms started to the W, NW and NNW of Langmuir Laboratory. I drove along the ridge of the Magdalena Mountains to South Baldy, a vantage point at 10,782 ft altitude, and managed to photograph some splendid lightning in front of the twilight arch. The photo shows a bolt from the blue, as this type of lightning is called - negatively charged cloud-to-ground lightning evolving from an intracloud flash and jumping out of the side of the cloud.

Photographed with Nikon FE, 85mm lens at f/4, on Fuji Provia 100F. Unfortunately I missed two other bolt from the blue flashes in this storm because they appeared in different places and the frame size was limited; I had forgotten to bring a more suitable lens. The city of Magdalena is directly below the frame.