Beholding Celestial Beauty, July and August ’16

These past two months have brought sacred moments of celestial beauty which I felt blessed to behold, mostly by phone in the field.

I give great thanks for the blessing of being alive and the opportunity to savor these moments…


New thunderstorm developing out ahead of an outflow boundary, looking southeast during mid-afternoon.


Towering cumulus rise heavenward at the tail end of dissipating thunderstorm, mid – afternoon. Cooling breezes rush in from the east where the rain shield still tumbles. Photo looking northeast.


I behold stunning celestial beauty as towering cumulus blossom in the eastern sky right outside my back door.


Distant tropical thunderstorm reflects in the water where I work at Richland College. Photo looking southeast.


A lone thunderhead blossoms, teases me, then breaks into a shower before dissipating at sunset. Photo looking northwest.


A magnificent celestial mountain of thunderhead blossoms to my north. Though it’s Texas, this scene reminds me of frequent skies I witnessed in southern Ohio decades ago.


Lovely rainbow and flock of Canadian Geese captured after work.


Rainbow appearing to tumble into the water fountain, captured after work.


Deepening evening casts beautiful shades to the southeastern sky.


This magnificent sunset captures my awe!


Curly cue thunderhead edge to right dances with ice halo or “sundog”. Photo looking southwest. Radar shows a significant lightning storm below the thunderhead.


Magnificent mountains of thunderhead beckon me to chase during my work day lunch break. Photo looking northeast.


Lunch break downburst in developing storm. Looking west.


I step out the back door as my lunch break commences, greeted by these magnificent thunderheads approaching my area from the south. What a delightful, unexpected and awe inspiring surprise! Occasional thunder deeply whispers below.


During a quick break during a work conference, I behold these beautiful thunderheads rising over downtown Dallas.


Thunderheads more than 150 miles over the horizon create these celestial angel wings to end the month of August.


Magnificent towering  cumulus cloud dancing in sky towards setting sun.


Beholding the beauty of towering cumulus during steamy tropical airmass, late August. Photo looking north.


At the time of this photo, these thunderheads were producing prolific lightning about 20 miles to my north, in Allen Texas. With it being a work day, chasing was out of the question. Still, from the distance, they presented me with a great example of celestial beauty.


Captured these beautiful thunderheads blossoming heaven ward across my southeast during an August lunch break. Beneath them, about 30 miles from my location, a prolific lightning show presented itself on radar. Unfortunately they were too far away to chase during my allotted one hour. At least one co-worker is now using these clouds as her computer screen wall paper courtesy of my sharing this celestial magnificence with our entire work team.


At the end of my August work conference in downtown Dallas, I was treated to this soul inspiring scene of new thunderheads blossoming upwards in advance of outflow from thunderstorm overhead. Heavy rain and occasional thunder peals echo across streets and buildings.


God’s Jaw Dropping Fireworks-July 4th 2013

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God put on quite a show in advance of our man-made fireworks between 5 and 7 a.m. in our neighborhood, July 4th.

Time and time again, my jaw dropped as I exclaimed things like “Wow!”, “Thank you God!”, “Awesome”, and so forth.

This storm yielded some of my very best lightning captures to date.

This first shot reminds me of a backbone with ribs.

Now, here are samples to share with you:

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I love how the lightning loop-de-loops. This is all one strike.

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All one discharge, no photo stacking here…

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A two for one special, again all in one flash…

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I love the way the dancing lightning highlighted rolling clouds.


This eerie shot highlights cloud silhouetting against celestial fire.


A little rain won’t snuff out God’s fireworks or dampen the show.

Photos and story copyright 2016, Stephen Eric Levine

Dallas to St. Joseph Texas- Awesome Storm Intercept


A splendid distant lightning display was one of my storm chase and intercept rewards.

Strategy- July 3rd, 2016:

After a spell of searing heat and dry weather, an opening appears before me in the form of thunderstorms clustered around Wichita Falls, TX; slowly moving eastward.  A second cluster lines north/south across southern Oklahoma.

My aim is to intercept the biggest and best of the bunch, so I take off from the Dallas area around 6 pm and head north on I-35 towards the Red River.  My goal is wild winds, rains and magnificent lightning.

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A massive anvil cloud extends out from the storm complex hugging the Red River east of Wichita Falls. As I move north of Denton, the storms in southern Oklahoma dissipate but the ones near Wichita Falls remain strong. I modify my goal from Durant OK to somewhere west of Gainesville, TX along 82 West.

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Here is the radar presentation of the storm line. It’s my hope they will hold together so we may intercept one another in the middle.

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About 25 miles west of Gainesville, the first storm clouds appear as artistic silhouettes upon distant sun drenched sky.

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Alas, west of Muenster, TX, the first towers appear, inviting me to join them. It’s cool how I could see all the way through to the other side of the storm line.

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How soul nourishing it feels inside of me, as joy fills my heart. I’ve hungered for an intercept like this for months – me, the vast sky and wild clouds dancing within. An occasional lightning branch dances within the towers up ahead.

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This hilltop view yields a majestic view of storm layout. I thrill to its awesome beauty.

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Towards nightfall, a distant lightning show unfolds. This and the following lightning photos are taken from about 2 miles south of St. Joseph, TX.


Lightning comes closer, and I celebrate its fiery magnificence.


My heart fills with awe and delight as I behold God’s electric creation.


Of particular interest is the snake-like nature of the lighting, and the lack of ribbons and branchlets.


This interesting discharge travels almost as far sideways close to the earth as it does between earth and sky. Notice the distant simultaneous lightning bolt dimly over the horizon, probably around 100 miles away.


Here is a crop of that awesome discharge.

All during this dusk show, my heart fills with reverence, awe and gratitude for beholding this wonderful show.

With a 1.5 hour drive back home, I’m guided by spirit to break away and return to the Dallas area.

Meanwhile a storm several miles south of me begins to kick itself up into gear, bringing frequent lightning and strong winds blasting against my car. At the same time, a new storm pops up over the northern horizon, offering occasional leaping bolts. A very dramatic escort towards I-35, Gainesville and beyond.

Story and Images Copyright 2016, Stephen Eric Levine.

Lucky Strike – June 14, 2016

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How lucky and joyful I was to witness not just one but a volley of sizzling, exquisite lightning strikes within one block of me, timed perfectly for my lunch hour June 14th.

Bolt after bolt, followed by almost ear splitting thunder crashes inspired my inner child to squeal and awe to fill my soul.

I had hungered so long for a show like this and today it came, snapping me out of a sleepy haze into alert, crisp wakefulness.

Thank you God for your amazing magnificence, and for your many lucky strikes on this day.

Storm Chase – Denton, TX -June 12,2016

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This chase features a wall cloud and nice hairy scud. Photo looking south towards Denton, TX.

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Magnificent stormy skies seethe closer as we maintain our position north of Denton.

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Nice dramatic shot as swirling storm clouds approach a church near our car.

We are treated to powerfully heavy rains – probably about a 9 out of 10 on the intensity scale, falling in huge drops spattering across the earth; lightning flickers and tremendous booms of thunder.

My passenger, Kris who is my wife’s daughter enjoyed the show. She had wanted to partake in a storm chase before leaving the next week for her home in Alabama.

She spoke my language; like a cheer leader, she commanded : “Come on! Give Stephen another nice big bolt!”

Awesome Lightning Show, May 26,2016


This awe-inspiring unleashing takes place in one discharge, and the photo captures only a fraction of what exploded across the sky those few seconds.

It was worth the wait, and fortunately Friday was a vacation day for me, as a decaying yet potent thunderstorm cell slowly approached the Dallas Metro area late Thursday evening.

Right around my normal  bedtime, vibrant ripples of light began pulsing across the southwestern and western horizons, slowly leaping closer.

The pure adrenaline of joy and eager anticipation fills my heart and keeps me awake long after normal fatigue would set in.

Sure enough, beginning around 11:15, my show arrives and I’m quite pleased.


Another massive full sky dance of electric fire…

By the time the thunderstorm cell has reached my neighborhood, only drizzle rides the gusty wind. This makes for great ease in capturing the awe-inspiring, magnificent outbursts.



A beautiful side winding river of light crosses the heavens


Awesome jelly fish-like discharge loops around itself as I delight in the magnificence of God’s fireworks.


I love all the little branchlets accompanying this vivid bolt.


Sheet lightning dances across sky, illuminating low clouds from above, while city lights cast glow below.

Thank you God for the gift of life and the opportunities I have to celebrate your awesome majesty as it shows itself through dancing lightning and roaring thunder!

(C) Stephen Levine, 2016

Front Door Storm Chase-May 12, 2016

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This magnificent discharge leaps across sky as storm approaches our neighborhood.

As much as I love chasing storms, enjoying the freedom of vast skies and aiming towards, ultimately intercepting my intended sweet immersion, I also love jumping between front and back doors at home, intercepting weather coming to join me.

This night is just such a night, as dramatic bolts and frequent flashes dance across sky and loud rolls echo forth, while raindrops pummel our earth, watering and nourishing our greening trees and plants.

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This magnificent bolt dazzles my eyes and brings great joy to my heart.

(C) Stephen Levine, 2016

Storm Chase to Breath Taking Lightning

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Capturing two out of three multiple strikes on one amazing lightning discharge, near Terrell, TX; April 29, 2016.

Around 8 pm, I set off on a wild chase towards my southeast. The sun has just set and I’m aiming to intercept a vivid radar screen image currently rolling from southwest of Dallas towards the northeast.

As I reach I-30 from the north, my target reveals itself in breath taking bolts spasmodically linking earth and sky in the distance across my southern and into the southeastern sky.

My adrenaline rises and spirit quickens as I reach Rockwall and take the country road towards Terrell.

Closer and closer I come, with breath taking bolts now landing magnificently in front of me, some evaporating into beads before vanishing from sight. Wow! What magnificence!

Sometimes their dazzling images linger in my eyes, and thunder shakes the car roof.

Finally, about 5 miles from Terrell, I find a nice open spot to pull over and savor the show…

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In this photo, the windshield wiper frozen in motion makes for an artistic touch to this lightning capture.

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Here I’m virtually surrounded by lightning!

What joy this intercept brings to my heart and soul, and stresses from life circumstances around me dissipate, like thunder rumbling off into the distance.

(C) Stephen Levine, 2016