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Beautiful Rotating Thunderstorm over Manatee County

Posted on Thursday, May 27, 2010 at 5:00 PM MST

DUETTE, FL -- A spectacularly beautiful rotating thunderstorm popped up over eastern Manatee County this afternoon. I departed from home around 4:45 PM for a quick observation of the storm at Pinellas Point. The storm was still blossoming, so I went for it, hitting the Skyway Bridge just after 5.

I got off Interstate 75 in the town of Parrish and headed east on SR-62 for about 30 miles. The storm grew continuously more impressive and more beautiful as I got closer. As I approached the western flank of the storm, the NOAA Weather Radio had put out massive flood warnings with the storm, so I opted not to drive into the storm. I parked the truck at the intersection of SR-62 and CR-39 near the small town of Duette and started to take photographs, just as the storm started to fall apart. It wasn't quite an ideal spot, with a tree line on the south side of 62. As I was watching the storm, it recoiled and re-fired just to the south. A quick check of the GPS showed no southbound roads nearby, and my iPhone was out of data network range.

I turned the truck around and headed back west on SR-62. About a mile down the road there was a small street called Bunker Hill Loop that had a wide open view to the south. I pulled onto Bunker Hill Loop, turned around, and parked right by the intersection, and started shooting. The photos came out incredible! I needed to get south.

As I backtracked looking for a southbound road, I was dead out of luck. I drove 17 miles back to Parrish before I was able to get a southbound road...US-301. As I came out of the trees on 301 and towards Palmetto, I noticed that the storm had once again fallen apart. There was no more recoil in it, so I went home. A quick stop at the Skyway on the way home yielded a nice shot of the low sun on the dissipating storm clouds. The photos came out great, and I got a few keepers for the new book.

Posted In: Chase Recaps

Tagged: Funnel Cloud, Flood