Stormy Skies

Under the Anvil

Summer arrived early this year in South Florida, even though the calendar hasn’t yet given permission. Every day in June has seen above average temperatures with 17 out of 18 days being in the 90s. Not to be outdone, the humidity has kept pace with highs of 85-97% except for one glorious day of just 74%. Our usually sunny skies often give way to afternoons with high billowing cumulonimbus clouds, lightning, and rain.

One afternoon last week I found myself under the anvil of an enormous towering cloud. I found the variety painted in the skyscape before me captivating and just a bit intimidating. Lightning stroked in the distance and I could discern areas of precipitation, but what seized my attention was an area of unusual formation in the center of the massive cloud.

Mammatus Clouds

I later learned that these somewhat rare mammatus clouds are caused by downdrafts in the cumulonimbus storm cell. An excellent description of the phenomena can be found at this website: Mammatus Clouds: sagging pouch-like structures.  Intrigued, I drove positioning myself where I could observe changes in the clouds. A fresh cooling breeze swept down on me. It was then that I discovered a group of seven or eight Swallow-tailed Kites riding the cloud’s convection currents. They looked so carefree as they swirled, too high for my lens to capture. Slowly, the margins of the anvil spread like a ring of delicate white lace. I felt privileged to observe the power and beauty of this stormy sky from the safety of my car before turning away to drive home.

Like most children, I loved to lay in the summer grass with my companions and scan the clouds, looking for identifiable shapes. “Look! An elephant and over there a cat!” On this day rather, a quiet contemplation and sense of awe occupied my thoughts as I considered the magnificence that wind and moisture sculpted above me. It would have been the perfect time for some celestial philharmonic to fill the skies with the deep chords of How Great Thou Art, but instead I enjoyed the silence of reverence and vowed to spend more time in the future looking up, instead of down.

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8 thoughts on “Stormy Skies

  1. Beautiful, MJ. I am experiencing some atmospheric disturbances today near Lake Ontario. Though we don’t get near the amount of storms Florida gets. Be careful out there. Florida gets the most lightning strikes in the US.

    Aren’t mammatus clouds a precursor to tornadoes? Very eerie looking.

    • Thanks for the warning, Scott. The area around Tampa Bay seems to be the lightning capital of the United States. I always thought that mammatus clouds indicated possible tornado formation, but I have learned that they appear in saturated air when the storm is in its decline. Fortunately, that was the case with this storm. It did make a beautiful sunset that evening.

  2. Oh, my, have just discovered your blog via googling for the name of some thistle-type looking flowers in wetlands that I have photographed and don’t know the name of, just that they are beautiful.

    I just love your blog. I do a photo a day for the same spiritual joy as you do yours, just photos though. Am very excited about looking at the rest of your blog, which will take awhile. From what I’ve seen, your photos are wonderful. They are all forms of prayer, aren’t they?

    • Thank you, Suchin. I am glad you discovered Morning Joy. I thoroughly enjoyed visiting your website as well. Your photos of snails and dragonflies are remarkable. Do you share your techniques?
      As for my blog, I endeavor to praise the King of Creation for his mighty works. My About Me page tells an important piece of my story.

  3. Very nice. I love the composition of this photo. I think it possibly breaks ‘the rules’ that people talk about and that’s what makes it unique and much better than the regular composition. The amount of cloud in this photo just serves to bring out the grass quite a bit, and the eyes are certainly drawn to the odd cloud shape in the middle. Another wonderful photo. 🙂

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