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Posted at 11:45 AM ET, 06/22/2008

Photography: Saturday's Severe Storm

By Ian Livingston

A plane approaching National Airport passes in front of a severe thunderstorm at 8:15 p.m.

On Saturday evening, environmental conditions perfectly aligned for the development of isolated severe storms that impacted parts of the metro area. An outflow boundary, a "mini" cold front that formed from the spreading of thunderstorm-cooled air to the south, moved into the area. This cool boundary, clashing with the warm and humid air in place, triggered the severe thunderstorms between 8:00 and 9:30 p.m. that produced some reports of large hail, isolated downed trees, and brief but torrential rain.

Continue reading for more on the outflow boundary, its associated storminess and additional photos of a storm viewed from D.C. Will more storms develop this afternoon and evening? See the full forecast, NatCast and UnitedCast.

Thunderstorms south of D.C. with developing outflow boundary (visible gray line just south and southeast of Fredericksburg, VA. Image at 6:31 p.m. and courtesy Weather Underground.

Following a warm and increasingly humid day, thunderstorms that developed south of the area in Virginia were slowly drifting north and re-developing along the outflow boundary that was acting as a trigger for additional storminess. These small but vigorous storms were visible from D.C. as they approached the Potomac River about 50 miles south of the city during the early evening.

Part of a thunderstorm roughly 50 miles south of where the picture was taken at 6:27 p.m.

Severe thunderstorm developing right behind outflow boundary (gray line passing through D.C. and Fairfax County). Image at 8:22 p.m. and courtesy Weather Underground.

The boundary moved across the heart of the area between 8:00 and 8:30 p.m. as a new thunderstorm developed immediately behind it and began drifting toward the northeast and into the metro region. As the storm blossomed, severe thunderstorm warnings were issued for Prince William and southeastern Fauquier counties.

The severe thunderstorm over Prince William and Fauquier counties and outflow boundary (gray clouds) moving through D.C. as viewed from Glover Park at 8:18 p.m.

By 8:45 p.m., severe thunderstorm warnings were in effect for much of the metro area as the storm moved towards places like Vienna and the city of Fairfax while skirting the western portions of D.C. Almost as quickly as the storm became severe, it then weakened while exiting Virginia and heading into Montgomery County, Maryland.

From my location, in upper northwest D.C., I was able to capture several photos of lightning emanating from the side of the storm while it peaked and then began to diminish. There were a handful of fairly spectacular forks of lightning, though some cloud debris obstructed my view. No rain fell at my location with this storm, but I did hear a few rumbles of thunder as the storm passed by.

9:23 p.m: 25 second exposure at IS0 200 and f/6.3.

9:28 p.m: 21 second exposure at IS0 320 and f/6.3.

9:30 p.m: 32 second exposure at IS0 320 and f/6.3.

All photographs in this post by Ian Livingston

By Ian Livingston  | June 22, 2008; 11:45 AM ET
Categories:  Photography, Recaps, Thunderstorms  
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Next: Alert: Severe Thunderstorm Watch Issued


The storm went juuuuuust west of us. BOOOOO. We did get 1 rumble of thunder from it though.

And here's an animated radar snapshot of the outflow boundary moving right through Lake Ridge, just coming into Fairfax and DC.

Posted by: weatherdudeVA (Lake Ridge) | June 22, 2008 1:14 PM | Report abuse

nada here in arlington (some wind; i, sadly, don't have great views of horizon cloud-age).

totally awesome pics, ian!

Posted by: dinergirl | June 22, 2008 1:33 PM | Report abuse

Great captures of the storm. Thanks for sharing.

Posted by: met_star | June 22, 2008 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Awesome photos. The plane flying into the pink is stunningly beautiful. Thanks.

Posted by: jhbyer | June 22, 2008 4:57 PM | Report abuse

weatherdudeVA (Lake Ridge), thanks for the neat link. Hope Annandale is as lucky as Lake Ridge. Love severe weather but worry about my little old house surrounded by big loooming trees. Not that my trees aren't excellent neighbors. :)

Posted by: jhbyer | June 22, 2008 5:07 PM | Report abuse

I saw this storm Last night u captured it perfectly!

Posted by: tstorm | June 22, 2008 8:17 PM | Report abuse

Ian, thanks for posting your pictures - the lightening shots are truly awesome, and all the pictures are gorgeous! The CC lightening like you show in your pictures just went on and on...reminded me of War of the Worlds.

Posted by: ~sg | June 22, 2008 10:39 PM | Report abuse

Thanks all. It's been a great month for storm photos.. probably more chances over the last 4 weeks than some years have all together.

Posted by: Ian, Capital Weather Gang | June 23, 2008 9:19 AM | Report abuse

Thanks Gang for your recomendation not to be detered from camping in the VA Shenandoah this weekend. Sat was beautiful through the late sunset. As night came so did the lightening storm, which, from a granite outcrop overlooking the length of the valley, was a majestic show. AM come with blue skies and a mist filled valley floor. A great time. Thanks again!

Posted by: Randy | June 23, 2008 4:35 PM | Report abuse

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