I departed Brooklyn around 11:30 Sunday morning with the goal of photographing a few storms across the eastern end of Long Island and then waiting for nightfall to photograph the Milky Way. Traffic began building and I still had at least an hour of driving ahead of me. The radar did not look very impressive with the only storms worth monitoring still in Connecticut so I was not too worried about getting there later than I hoped.
By the time I arrived in Nassau County I could see the cloud tops to my north and knew I was running behind. I checked the current radar again and the storms were starting to move over the Long Island Sound. There was a Special Marine Warning issued by the National Weather Service stating this storm had winds of 34 Knots and contained small hail.
I continued east on the Long Island Expressway and made it into the Suffolk County. I could see the line of storms starting to explode in the sky. It looked beautiful. The lightning was increasing which is usually a sign that a storm is getting stronger. Unfortunately the storm was speeding up so I needed to find a new target area. I originally wanted to find a spot on the north shore and time lapse the storms across the water but based off of the storm speed and current traffic conditions I knew I needed a new plan.
I picked a new target near one of the inlets on the south shore. I have been to this area before and knew it had a wide open view. The National Weather Service now issued a severe thunderstorm warning for the area ahead of the storm. I knew I would not be able to get in front of it but I continued on knowing the backside would be just as interesting as it moved offshore.
I arrived as the storm began moving off shore and was able to capture some amazing photographs of the backside of the storm as well as this time lapse below.
1100 shot timelapse I captured over the course of 30 minutes.
After photographing that storm I noticed more towering cumulus clouds going up to my north. I decided to head over to the other side of the beach and start a new time lapse.
As I was wrapping up my time lapse I noticed new storms moving in from the northwest and I realized it was time to move again. The beach traffic on a barrier island limited how far west I could travel; If I attempted to go north to get off the Island I would be stuck in traffic for an hour. My only option was to move to the western most part of the Barrier Island.
I began driving west for roughly 20 minutes and watched as the storm became stronger and stronger. The Radar was also indicating two significant hail cores embedded within the severe thunderstorm.
As I arrived at Cupsogue Beach County Park I immediately noticed everyone leaving the beach and knew I was going in the right direction. I walked over the sand dunes and I could not believe my eyes as I looked at the sky. I had never seen a storm like this on Long Island before. The structure was beautiful and a giant shelf cloud hovered for miles across the ocean.
I hung around the beach for a little while longer until the eastern part of the storm began pouring down on me. I headed back to my car to figure out my next move. I took a look at radar and immediately noticed a new storm over Connecticut, headed to the east of me. Time to move once more and try to intercept the final severe thunderstorm of the day. I had already planned on shooting the sunset and then the milky way in Montauk so this next thunderstorm would take me in the right direction.
I began driving east again. I quickly picked out a spot on google maps that was along the waterfront and would hopefully give me an unobstructed view of the storms. Now I just needed to get there before the storms do.
Once I arrived I only had roughly 20 minutes to photograph the storms before it moved over my location. I was hoping the parking lot would be close to the water so I can shoot until the very last minute without getting soaked. Once I arrived however I realized I would have to walk almost a mile down to the beach. At this point I knew I would be getting wet but the photographs I would be capturing would make it well worth it.
The view was absolutely breathtaking. My 2nd shelf cloud of the day. I snapped photos until the rain started to pour. You can see the drops of rain on my lens towards the end of the video.
Once this last batch of thunderstorms moved out, I slowly headed east to Montauk, the eastern most point in New York, to photograph the sunset and the Milky Way.