Art Direction · Design · Photography
All content created by Jon Pernul unless otherwise stated.
On July 25, 2010, driving home from Sylvan Lake, Alberta, the road became wet and visibility was reduced by scattered thunder showers. It was evening, with the sun low in the sky, at times peering out in the distance. It projected brief but gorgeous rainbows that illuminated the gloomy backdrop to the east. At some point the haziness slowly began to dissipate, revealing a dark, unusual but beautiful, wavy cloud outline. My appreciation for clouds was about to change. As the sky cleared, the outline revealed itself to be the edge of something much greater.
What lie ahead was a massive cloud, ominous and commanding, with a clearly visible spinning motion at it’s center. The contrast between this dark cloud, and the soft light of the low sun against an otherwise clear blue sky was breathtaking. I experienced awe, reverence, then fear, as the cloud made it’s way from just off the side of the road, to intersecting our path on the highway.
With drivers unsure and uncertain, the highway quickly became a parking lot, as no one dare cross it’s path. It brought a downpour, followed by what appeared to be golf ball sized hail. We all waited for the unexpected.
The unexpected never happened. As the cloud progressed past the highway, there was a sense of relief. Cautiously the vehicles resumed their journey.
I would later find out I had witnessed the mesocyclone of a low precipitation supercell, which are know to spawn tornados.
I have never since looked at clouds quite the same way…
Brandon Brown chased this storm, his account can be found here.
Jaunque’s video Mountain View County, Alberta storm shows the dark wavy cloud outline seen during our approach.
This video captures the cloud from Didsbury, AB’s perspective.
I always have my iPhone on me, but unfortunately I accidentally submerged it in the lake that day. It would be three days until I could use it again. My DSLR was in the trunk, I couldn’t pull over to get it as traffic was slow and heavy, the highway was slick, and all attention was on that cloud! No one knew what would happen next, and no one got out of their cars, especially when the hail hit as the cloud crossed the highway. Once the storm subsided, I felt a deep sense of relief as I retrieved my camera from the trunk and captured these few shots after it had crossed the highway.
These photos © Jon Pernul // djonstyle