The following day I drove to the Lower Keys expecting the main squall coming
from the west. I wanted to be in Key West for the occasion. This time
unfortunately though, things did not happen that way. Upon crossing the
Seven Mile Bridge the storms rolling in from the Gulf weakened significantly.
Just before sunset I spotted a lone couple of storm towers to my south, over the
waters of Florida Straits. These were about sixty miles away. To my bitter
surprise, a line of thunderstorm with vivid lightning flashes also erupted just off
of the Upper Keys, pretty much right next to my house. Yeah, that would be the
worst possible scenario you ever want to go through while chasing storms.

By now it was dark out, storms to my west weakened completely so I decided to
go back to the Upper Keys and try to make something out of the storms there. I
knew most of the show would be over by the time I got there. Luckily there was
another impulse later in the evening that provided for some more lightning
activity although not as intense as earlier. Of a particular interest to me was a
single very well electrified cell about thirty miles to my south that went up at
about 2am. I used the 200mm lens to zoom all the way into the core of the
thunderstorms updraft. Obtaining a perfectly correct focus and exposure was a
challenge. Nevertheless I managed to capture a great close up full resolution
detail of a vivid positive lightning discharge associated with this thunderstorm.
I hope that for the rest of the season I will be able to capture even more detailed
shots like this one. My main focus for the upcoming wet season here in south
Florida will be capturing of close up detailed shots like this one, especially
focusing on the region where these powerful bolts exit the thunderstorm.  
Thunderstorm towers over distant waters of
the Florida Straits. Image shot from the
southern end of Sugarloaf Key.
Lightning bolt over the Upper Keys. This
storm was about sixty miles away. Image
shot from the Lower Keys during sunset.
Thunderstorms that persisted until the late morning hours and saved the day.  The dark cell
growing in the foreground is going to be the one I zoom in a bit later, as soon as it becomes
lightning active. These storms lasted for hours and eventually moved
away toward Cuban coast and Bahamas.
Proper focus and exposure was quite a challenge here. It is much easier done with a digital
SLR these days. This is the main updraft tower flashing about every few seconds. It is great
to see the rain falling inside of the thunderstorm and the sharp,
crispy outlines of the main updraft tower...
Some nights your patience really pays off
as was the case with this shot. It is a close
up full frame photo with a positively
charged bolt exiting the thunderstorm. A
nice detail and proper exposure. I hope
more like this and even more spectacular
ones coming up my way in near future.
The rainy season is almost here...
Text & Images
(c) 2007
FloridaLightning.com
Lightning Storms of March 15th & 16th, 2007
BY MARTIN KUCERA
(c) 2007 - FloridaLightning.com