Exploring the Earth and Sky of the West

Walla Walla

In which Zeus makes a brief visit to Walla Walla…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Lightening and thunder usually avoid Eastern Washington like Jack Abramoff avoids paying taxes. In nearly four years here, I can recall just two other events that were worthy of association with the word “thunderstorm” and Monday evening’s outburst was of the finest bursts of hellfire I’ve seen in a while. Kudos to Brian Percival for extracting me from my room (thesis work be damned) and alerting me of the approaching storm.

My previous attempts at lightning photography have been severely hindered by rain and the fact that standing outside next to a metal tripod during a thunderstorm is generally considered a poor life decision. Fortunately, I live in an apartment located on the upper level of a building containing a winery and a fitness studio (one naturally wonders about the amount of overlap between the clientele of the two businesses…), thus providing me with a reasonably safe, elevated vantage point from which to view the storms. Being able to set up my tripod inside the front door and rattle off a couple hundred exposures ranging in length from 1-30 seconds made things pretty straightforward even once it started raining and lightning started hitting campus buildings. The extremely luminous building in the immediate foreground is a hotel known for relatively frequent drug busts, while the tall structure at left in some of the photos is the Marcus Whitman Hotel, the tallest building in Walla Walla and one which is located at the extreme opposite end of the Walla Walla lodging spectrum. Oddly enough, even once the storm was nearly on top of us, there was still very little thunder to be heard, just a fantastic light show and a brief period of intense rain and wind.

Whitman Wonderland

It’s that time of year again! Namely, the time of year when we get to watch all the freshmen from California completely freak out over the first insignificant dusting of snow here in Walla Walla. In addition to the snow flurries, we were treated to an interesting weather phenomenon known as “freezing fog” here on the final day of classes.  I have heard about freezing fog before but had never experienced it until today…and as a result I can now say with confidence that freezing fog is pretty much just as unpleasant as it sounds.  It did make for some cool pictures though, and goodness knows I need as many ways to procrastinate as possible with final exams starting on Monday.

A white Whitman and Ankeny Field from the roof of the Hall of Science

Hoarfrost encapsulates a net on a soccer goal

Hoarfrost is basically frozen dew...it forms in sub-freezing temperatures when the humidity is high and water vapor in the air turns directly into a solid.

The Occupy Whitman camp looking a little....er...."unoccupied" after the freezing fog moved though

Memorial Hall

Fall in Walla^2

The wheat fields are bare, the homework is piling up, and the freshmen have stopped doing their daily Core reading.   This combination of seemingly disparate events can mean only one thing: Fall has arrived in Walla Walla.  This is not a bad thing in its own right, but sadly it means that the Sun will soon be disappearing behind the annual onslaught of clouds, mist, fog, and general dreariness that are the months of November-April here in eastern Washington. A few pictures from the past few weeks:

An unidentified bird dilligently guards his precious wheat

Sumac leaves on their deathbed

Horse Heaven Hills from Walla Walla