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While the American desert southwest has many interesting areas and features, the heat of late summer combined with topographical effects of the mile deep Grand Canyon produce some often spectacular thunderstorms. I have been fortunate to be able to work in the park for several weeks each summer, giving me the opportunity to chase some of the meteorological activity around the canyon. As the moist air masses move over the heat of the canyon, electrical activity increases, and the storms begin to dissipate from the rising heated air. This movement results in more apparent storminess and lightning along the canyon rims.
The monsoon season in 2021 was quite active, and the usually arid zone was much greener than usual. The hardy vegetation throughout the park was healthy and green, and the grassy areas throughout the park were lush and green, instead of the usual yellowish-brown of late summer. The elk and deer that roam the area all looked healthy, and the numerous squirrels in the park have rarely appeared so well fed.
One evening during the recent monsoon season in northern Arizona, the western sunset had faded out and I decided to head home. As I turned to leave, this cloud looking east on Maricopa Point in the Grand Canyon National Park drew my attention. The upper part of the formation was still catching the last light from the sun, and as I watched there was some occasional electrical activity. I quickly set up the lightning trigger and was able to catch this single bolt. This moment is an excellent illustration of the need to explore all 360 degrees of your location when searching for the beauty of late day horizontal light.
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Dimitri Vasileiou • Editor