The last few weeks have been exceptionally dry here, with monsoonal moisture from the four corners region unable to penetrate the area. This has been especially unfortunate since a wildfire has been burning near Jackson, Wyoming since July 17th. There are other fires in Idaho as well, but this one so close to the Tetons is making for extremely poor air quality in the park.
Showers briefly passed through one week ago, but were widely scattered and barely wet the ground. The area in and around Jackson Hole and Grand Teton National Park had a bit of luck over the weekend, though, with some significant precipitation. Clouds having been in very short supply of late, I took a chance and headed over to the park hoping I might be able to make a photograph. It didn’t look promising at first. Dramatic clouds had already moved east of the Tetons by the time I went over the pass. I found myself wondering if I’d been better off staying on the Idaho side in the Teton Valley and working from there.
Rain was drawing near from the west, but those dark skies were flat and uninteresting. I worked my way through a number of locations trying to find a spot which featured both thunderheads and the flatter dark clouds, to no avail. My last idea was to go to the far northern end of the park where I’d have a completely different vantage point. At first, this didn’t seem like it was going to pan out, either. Raindrops were already falling, and the sky was losing detail. Fresh out of ideas given how the storm was behaving, I decided to stick with it, hike out, and see what happened.
The first wave moved through rather rapidly. The sky was painted with dark streaks from rain very nearby. Behind it, the combination of cumulonimbus clouds and sun duking it out for control of the weather created some amazing lighting, especially around Mount Moran. Shafts of light found holes in the busy sky, dancing around the peaks. As I watched the mountains, the movement of these light rays was constant and obvious. It was short-lived, but spectacular.
Hoping I might catch some reflections of cumulonimbus clouds in the Snake River, I finished up at this spot and ventured back south to another location. That photo was not meant to be, as the sky was simply dark and flat. I waited an hour, but there was no change. Checking the radar, I could see that my opportunity for the evening had likely passed as the rain was going to settle in. Still – a good outing, and the precipitation was welcome.