I often refer to myself as a wannabe storm chaser, but a more accurate description would probably be that I’m an aspiring storm-gazer.

When a person here’s the term “storm chaser” they automatically think of someone, in this era of cable TV, who is trying to get as close to a tornado as they can without dying. I don’t need to see a tornado to feel as though I’ve had a successful outing storm-gazing, although tornadic storms are often the most picturesque. In fact, in most cased I’d rather be miles away from the storm, looking back at the supercell in full. I want structure such as the updraft, anvil and mammatus to be clearly visible so I can sketch or photograph them and put them into clay.

I’d like to be able to chase storm-gazing opportunities, and have made very mild attempts at doing so a couple of times the past couple of years. Storm-gazing from home, from Grand Island, has been very poor so far this season. We’ve had a few storms roll by, but it’s either been at night or while it was overcast to begin with.

Yesterday evening a nice little supercell formed just south of Grand Island, and in my unfortunate hurries I somehow missed its birth until it was more or less just a gray anvil overhead. The rear flank was visible to the west, but it wasn’t photogenic with the bright, late afternoon sun still bearing down on it, aiding in the storm’s development.

A couple of hours later some of the structure was quite nice, though, as the cell slowly floated north over Grand Island. An acquaintance from high school posted this stellar capture to Facebook, and I stitched together the following panorama taken from my driveway with DoubleTake.


About pcNielsen
Paul Nielsen founded The Aesthetic Elevator late in 2005. He owns a piece of paper, located somewhere in his house (not on the wall), stating that he earned a B.F.A. from the University of Nebraska around about 2001. While there, he studied studied architecture, graphic design and ceramics, graduating with a degree in studio art. Paul presently serves as communications manager for a small non-profit doing their print design and marketing. He spends as much time sculpting in his studio as possible — which is not nearly enough. Visit his website at

One Response to Storm-gazing

  1. Julie says:

    Looking good, Paul! Hope you’re well.

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