Sandhills Storm Sky

A wild array of bands and striations decorated a storm’s edge, high above the Evans Ranch near Hyannis, Nebraska.  Storm observing in the Sandhills often is a frustrating endeavor, mainly because roads there lie below the crests of the vegetated dunes, blocking horizontal visibility.  In this case, there was nothing much to see on the horizon anyway, with the most beautiful and interesting cloud features sweeping almost directly overhead.

Every storm has a unique look in the details, with this being one of the most fascinating I’ve seen.  Its behavior also was very rare in my experience.  The outflow was moving away from the storm but retreating from us.  How is that possible?  The answer is in relative motion.  Yes, relativity isn’t just a concept of astrophysics, it applies to all scales of motion, moving objects, and even moving processes like this!  The storm was retreating off to the right (NNW) faster than its outflow was moving toward us.  Southerly inflow winds at the surface kept the edge of the outflow air (gust front) from lingering where it had been left by the storm.  The net result was that the outflow also was moving NNW, but not as fast as the storm.

1 NNW Hyannis NE (11 Jun 7) looking WNW
42.0322, -101.7583

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