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It’s that time of year where I have to confess to my storm addiction.  Two years ago, I was terrified of a cloud.  I lived in a place where nearly clear blue skies were the norm and thunderstorms were a rare exception.  I can count three times I saw lightning (one storm was magnificent) and one time I heard thunder.

And then I drove across country, nervously dodging cumulus towers and nearly panicking when the sky turned black in Mississippi. I saw my first supercell thunderstorm in Texas, but I was able to watch it from a sixth-floor hotel room in Amarillo (this was the Childress tornado on 6/15/2008).

My first summer in Florida was partially spent in a little closet tucked away under the stairs of my apartment.  As soon as I arrived in Florida, I sent away for a NOAA SAME weather radio and amused/terrified myself for several months each time the alert sounded with a severe thunderstorm warning.  The day the radio blared out a tornado warning I swore I was going to pack up and move immediately to Newfoundland.

Something happened, though. From abject terror I went to absolute fascination.  I now love photographing storm clouds and as summer approaches I am building a nice collection.

The photos here have been taken over the past couple of weeks.  A thick cloud layer hung over Gainesville one night as we approached from the south, and as I snapped away from my car, Mr. B. mentioned that I was not the only driver taking photos.  Another storm sprang up as we left the Florida Folk Festival and I drove through it (another milestone), but not before stopping to grab a few photos of a fake funnel cloud (no rotation).

No more running home from Publix when the bag boy announces that the sky outside is black.  No more studying the giant storm drains on SW 20th and wondering if they would provide a temporary tornado shelter if the driving, flooding rain were of less magnitude than the panic of the driver.

How dull.  Now what? Cave diving?

Approaching Gainesville from the south.

The driver in front of me also photographed the cloud.  This was taken at the Archer Road exit off I-75.

Same storm, two miles west.  Taken from the Tower Road Publix parking lot.  Looks pretty ominous, but it didn’t contain any firebolts.

Leaving the Florida Folk Festival, I decided to chase this mess that was moving over Lake City.  This photo was taken headed south on U. S. 41 just outside of White Springs.

Here’s the fake funnel cloud beginning to form beneath the cloud.  I’d have driven in the opposite direction two years ago.  Now, I headed right towards it, after having a minor argument with Mr. B. when I wanted to pull over to make sure that it wasn’t rotating before I plowed ahead.


It mimicked a funnel.  I often see these things hanging out of Florida clouds, but this was the first time I’d taken a good picture of one.


Mr. B. wanted to go back to Falling Creek Falls, which is located just north of Lake City.  This didn’t look like the time to visit, but I drove towards it just the same.


We both agreed that this was not the time to go trekking around outside…

Although the murky sky made Florida’s astounding greens even greener.


We ended up driving back towards Gainesville, and shortly after I took this photo the clouds boiled over and pelted rain for the next 20 miles.  I drove right through it, taking some pleasure in putting on my hazards.  The experience reminds me that a drop of rain could stall California traffic for hours.

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