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Cocoa, Florida, lightning by Chris Kridler
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Back in 2001, when I’d been chasing storms for just a few years, Dave Lewison and I met up with Scott Blair and Jason Politte on May 30 and headed into northeast New Mexico in pursuit of supercells. We found one that formed on the high plains. There were cold temperatures aloft and the perfect ingredients for rock-hard hail. We knew the storm was producing this hail – we could see it, falling from the cloud like a white waterfall – and we were determined to get ahead of it.

Even now, chasers get caught by hail. Hell, some chasers rush into it. But back in the days of no in-car radar data, when we’d “go visual” to figure out where to be in relation to the storm, it was even easier to screw up. And boy, did we screw up. We got on I-40 and were caught by the storm just inside the Texas Panhandle, with no exits or shelter in sight. Our cars were bombed by sideways-blowing hail for about ten minutes, including stones up to baseball size. To this day, I avoid chasing storms on Interstates because of this experience.

I’ve posted a new edit of the video from this day. Be warned: THERE IS CURSING. This was also way before everyone was shooting in high-def. And listening to my angst makes me cringe a bit. But because of this experience, I kept my cool when I got into an even worse hailstorm on May 12, 2005. You might say I’ve become a bit hail-avoidant since then.

I had a strong case of sleep deprivation for a couple of days last week thanks to getting up in the wee hours to get out to the beach at Cape Canaveral for a rocket launch. Rocket launches are a bonus of living on the Space Coast of Florida, and the pre-dawn launches have the potential to be especially spectacular. This Atlas 5 launch on August 8 by United Launch Alliance lived up to its promise!

Note the “sparkles” in the detail shot of the end of the plume. Those are the rocket boosters tumbling back to Earth after separation.

I recently had the chance to visit the beautifully restored TWA terminal at JFK airport when I went to New York for the Romance Writers of America convention. Now the terminal is the TWA Hotel and a great place to stop in the 1960s for a cocktail on your way to somewhere else.

Originally designed by architect Eero Saarinen, the retired terminal is pure art, with graceful lines, gorgeous views everywhere, and not a square corner to be seen. Click on the thumbnails to see bigger images or go through the whole gallery.