July 14, 2004:

The day started out with a tornado watch being posted for the area early in the day.  At about 12:50pm the SPC "Storms Prediction Center" out of Norman, Oklahoma posted the watch until 7pm.  The threat diminished as the day wore on.  The storms did not move eastward as fast as they had once thought.  At 7pm the tornado watch was allowed to expire but in its place they issued a severe thunderstorm watch till midnight.  The skies remained sunny for most of the day the temps climbed into the low 90's across the Hampton Roads cities with dew points in the mid 70's.  That would be the fuel that would kick the storms off later in the evening.  Around 8pm the storms started to build all around us as I was in Chesapeake.  Looking north we could see the developing storm in the first few photos below.  We watched it grow until it anviled out with a nice over shooting top.  I would talk with friend Bill Coyle and the decision was made we would meet at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and shoot from under the bridge on the beach.  Cristal and I arrived shortly after Bill and quickly set up the equipment.  I decided not to shoot video this night because I have not been able to shoot slides of any lightning this season and I wanted to concentrate on that and shooting digitals.  Feeling like we would get slammed by the storm, Cristal took the camera bags back to the truck where she would stay and watch the radar.  With in five to ten minutes of her getting back to the truck, all hell broke loose.  As she called me on the cell phone, she said " you guys need to get outta there before...."  then the rain started falling very heavily and the wind quickly increased to about 30mph.  With in a minute we had winds sustained near 55mph and a few big gusts that were easily 65 maybe even 70mph.  We were being blasted with sand and rain from the west.  It was all we could do to save the equipment.  Bill thought his Canon still camera was lost due to getting soaked by the rain and I thought the Nikon was trashed by the inch of sand caked on it by the blowing wind.  Luckily for Bill the batteries died and his is fine.  Mine, the lens is lost.  Sand in the focus and zoom features are just grinding away and the front element is scratched.  I managed to wrap up the digital and protect it.  Below are the digital photos and slides before we were slammed. 

Digitals: Sony Digital DSC F-717

Slides: Nikon N65. Fuji Velvia Film ISO 50.

All Images Copyright Jesse V. Bass III and

Copyright 2004 All Rights Reserved