Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Florida Keys Day 2, Part 2 | Watching storms form along Alligator Alley

This sort of anvil cloud, which is kind of shrouded by lower-level cumulus clouds, is not usually what I want to see while driving. It almost certainly means heavy rain, an unwelcome event while traveling on a highway with a mix of crazy drivers and old people.

Now that my trip has ended, after about 1,100 miles, I'm beginning the process of posting some of the hundreds of photos I took throughout South Florida and the Florida Keys. It will be slow, though, with only a few photos per post, usually separated by theme or location.

These three images were taken Friday afternoon along Interstate 75, near the eastern edge of the Big Cypress National Preserve. This is when I first noticed storms converging on the highway also known as Alligator Alley. I pulled off at a rest area and took a few shots of the anvil cloud to the north, the first of many I would see on my trip. Because of the unobstructed views in South Florida and the Keys, I could see for miles, and the horizon would be littered with anvils, with dark shrouds of rain at their bases.

While this particular storm was to the north, another was forming in the south. The unpredictability of the airflow in Florida can be astounding. Thunderstorms can move in whatever direction they want, and these two were moving toward each other. Eventually, they would collide near the interstate. But I will save that for another post.

This wispy, hood-like formation above the tops of the anvil cloud is called pileus. It's one of my favorite features, which I often see with storms on the Space Coast. I think this is the first time I have posted a photo of it, though. The clouds are created by updrafts in storms, cooling the air above and giving rise to water vapor. The pileus clouds are visible in the first image of this post, too.

Many of the rest stops along Alligator Alley include these towers. The dome-shaped discs are lightning detectors. And they were working overtime for this storm.

1 comment:

Thomas Damgaard Sabo said...

Beautiful shots...thanks for explaining the pileus formations, one of my favorite things too.

Looking forward to seeing the shots from along the way.