cumulus bombs

July 02, 2018  •  5 Comments

It would be easy and carefree to say that the 2017-2018 weather season thus far has been quite wonderful.  The winter was not harsh.  We shoveled very little snow, and temperatures have been almost perfect.  Winds that extended through spring and are still blowing regularly might be the only weather issue. But combined with all the gentleness, is the extreme drought in which much of the Southwestern United States finds itself.  It is crispy dry.  The national forests are closed, and the collective "we" are hoping that people use their heads and whatever common sense available during this time as far as using anything flammable, including fireworks.  

From our place on the high mesa, we have been offered some extraordinary visuals, in the form of cumulonimbus clouds or events, what I call "cumulus bombs" because they literally look like an atom bomb has been exploded.  The first formed in late afternoon and continued as the sun set, in the area east of Taos.  The eastern part of New Mexico seems to be the only place that has the magical combination of enough moisture and heat to create the uplift for one of these bombs.  One such event happened last Saturday evening.  It was huge and particularly beautiful at sunset, created totally by nature.

cumulus cloud action full shotcumulus cloud action full shot


There were so many elements to it that I wanted to give you an idea of the complexity with the photograph below.

cumulus cloud action detailcumulus cloud action detail


This cumulonimbus cloud was a result of the Sardinas Canyon Fire, 18 miles southeast of Taos.  

cumulus cloud action from Sardinas Canyon fire detail-2cumulus cloud action from Sardinas Canyon fire detail-2


With a closer look.  As the crow flies, this fire is on the other side of the Rio Grande from us, roughly 35-40 miles away.

cumulus cloud action from Sardinas Canyon fire detailcumulus cloud action from Sardinas Canyon fire detail

Although this fire is not yet contained on any level, it does not appear to be as intense as it was earlier.  Unfortunately, the Spring Creek Fire near Ft. Garland, Colorado, a mean blaze that has charred over 50,000 acres and burned much of an entire community.  It is now 5% contained.  Both of these fires were human-caused.   I feel conflicted about photographing fires because of the destruction on the ground to animals and humans alike. This kind of smoke means something totally different to those directly involved.  We are thinking about you, Anne, and rain to recharge the West.

until next Monday,


a passion for the [email protected]


Catherine Sobredo(non-registered)
Powerful and dramatic cloud formations as a result of a planet that is providing us with many messages. Thank you for posting them Daryl! The images left me quite pensive.
Elida Hanson-Finelli(non-registered)
Stunning photos of the fires! I too feel conflicted about photographing these events so I bypassed the opportunity as we drove north on Saturday. Now I regret it and am grateful you did!
Wayne Gesterfield(non-registered)
Wonderful clouds. I love cloud pictures.
Steve Immel(non-registered)
Worked this time.
Steve Immel(non-registered)
This a beautiful post, Daryl. When I clicked on your hyperlink it took me to your website and then I clicked on Blog. Is that the way it's supposed to work, meaning an additional step? I like that have to go to your home page but wonder about the extra step.

In any event, the clouds warmed by the setting sun are fabulous and do resemble a "mushroom shaped cloud" as in Tom Lehrer's Merry Minuet. Remember that little ditty?

Have a great fourth!
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