Each year we run a tour in the desert southwest from Tucson we call the Desert Thunder Tour. Its specific purpose is to photograph the incredible lightning that occurs during this period. The 2023 monsoons haven’t been very good thus far, however we were still able to capture many great lightning strikes in southeast Arizona and also near Sedona. Nothing prettier than the desert landscape filled with cactus and red rock foregrounds to set the stage for a beautiful lightning image! Please enjoy them!
Our 2021 Desert Thunder tour scored big this year, chasing nearly every day. A very favorable monsoon pattern was in place with a 4 corners high stationary the entire time, pumping easterly winds in the mid levels and surface moisture out of Mexico. Daily rounds of storms gave us some amazing scenes, and throw in the cactus varieties and mountains, and you have a winner! All guests got some incredible photos! It is nice being able to base yourself at ONE hotel to come back to each night and the Tucson airport Residence Inn is a great one! Please enjoy the pics and if you are interested in this “lightning and landscape” tour, check out the website! It is shown at the bottom of the list of tours.
Our Photo Tour #3 had one of the worst weather patterns of 2021! This period usually produces great severe weather, supercells, lightning and tornadoes. Not the case for 2021. Since the pattern was dominated by a massive record breaking ridge of high pressure resulting in sunny hot days, we decided to take the group to Arizona to photograph monsoon storms. Much better than doing the park scene! We DO go the extra mile to at least find a storm, any storm, that is worthy to photograph! We spent most of the tour around the Tucson area as an active monsoon had set in. This is the first time we have ever taken a storm chasing tour to Arizona to chase in June! Some of the lightning we captured was super, and there was also a marginal supercell near Stafford. Upon our return to the Denver area on the last day of the tour, we did intercept a supercell just east of town. Enjoy the pics! We hope the weather pattern will be back to normal for 2022 Photo Tour #3!
Each year, in conjunction with our sister website, www.southwestphotographytours.com, we spend 2 weeks in Arizona conducting our popular Desert Thunder Tours. We keep these as small one van tours, with 6 guests. The Arizona monsoon season peaks in July and August, with southern Arizona receiving the brunt of the thunderstorm activity. We had a very successful monsoon season in 2017, with storms on 75% of the days! We travel anywhere we believe the most intense, and pretty, storms will occur. We spent time in southeast, southern and central Arizona, and even in southwest New Mexico. We photographed storms over Saguaro National Park, Kitt Peak, the desert floors, Sedona, Cathedral Rock, the Chiricahuas, the Superstition Mountains and many others. Some of the most spectacular lightning in the country occurs here each season! Below are many photos of the events we captured while on tour this season. We hope you enjoy the photos and we hope to see you with us on tour in the years ahead!
After our storm chasing tours are over, we head to Arizona to run our monsoon storm tours and workshops. You can find these at our www.southwestphotographytours.com website. Here are some of the incredible images we had this year, including a tornado near Wilcox, AZ! We get a lot of guests from our Silver Lining Tours family that come on our monsoon storm tours, which are called “Desert Thunder”. We’d love to have you! Check them out on our other website.
Caryn and I were fortunate to spend a few days in Arizona to film the monsoon storms. Well, I filmed, she shopped, but did film the beautiful cactus in bloom. Check out some of these photos for what the deserts have to offer in late summer. Magnificent place! A photographer’s delight! This will be a VERY LONG page, so be prepared!
Our annual trip to Tucson resulted in some great lightning from numerous storms, almost everyday. This year we tied in some slot canyon exploration with the monsoon adventure, before and afterwards. A couple select shots are shown below. Enjoy!!!
Below are some images taken from my house during the month of August and early September. During our typical monsoon season, July and August provide some great lightning photography opportunities. A couple of the shots towards the bottom of the page had a rain drop or two on the lens and thus came out blurred on those spots.
This was our annual Desert Thunder tour for Silver Lining Tours, and it did not disappoint. Several days, we had intense storms developing off the mountains and moving over the lower deserts, providing wonderful electrical displays.
What a fun week this turned out to be! Our tour company, Silver Lining Tours, is going to operate a new tour called Desert Thunder in 2008. So, my wife Caryn and I, along with our good friend Alister Chapman headed to Tucson to film the monsoon storms. We were NOT disappointed! During an active monsoon, as this was, storms formed daily off the higher terrain east of south of Tucson, then propagated and rebuilt on thunderstorm outflow winds, on the desert flatlands. These storms a extremely photogenic, producing intense lighting, haboobs (dirt storms, some QUITE dangerous as you will see below), and flash flooding. This turned out to be one of my favorite NON-tornadic ventures of the year.