Thursday, October 1, 2009

Celebration of Lightning: a recap of Vancouver's summer storm

I thought I would finally post some photos from July 25, 2009.

I'll never forget this day.

It started out as a beautiful Saturday afternoon: clear skies, sunshine, temperatures in the mid 20's Celsius. We picked up BBQ supplies, called up our friends, and all met down at Spanish Banks.

When we set up on the beach it was 4pm and the tide was very low - one of the lowest tides I had seen there in a long time. You could barely even see the people - they were so far out!

We decided to head down to the beach and walk out to the water's edge.

Some of the guys went for a swim... was around then when I looked east and noticed a big dark cloud looming over the city.


I knew it had to be raining over there, and we're not talking about a light drizzle. I just crossed my fingers and hoped that it wouldn't make it out our way. I mean, it was still sunny where we were.

Sort of.

I decided to head back. Back through the seaweed and sandbars and salt water channels.

Back at the site, we set up our BBQ and watched as the tide crept back in.

For several hours we enjoyed drinks, food, and one another's company, watching the tide coming in with all the people with it.

And that's when it started to happen.

We first heard the thunder off in the distance, and it was followed by bright flashes. But the lightning was far enough away, out in the mountains and over the city and suburbs, so we continued our BBQ. We continued like this for about half an hour before the rain set in. It was large, luscious drops of rain. It cleared out almost all of Spanish Banks to the point where we were the only ones left.

Strangely, we stayed and basked in it.

We watched the lightning light up the mountains across the water and behind us over the suburbs. We could see it fork down over downtown Vancouver, and we just stood there in awe.

Earlier in the day we had a hard time finding parking and a spot on the beach. And here we were, a few hours later, and the beach was vacant with exception to a few individuals like ourselves, shreiking with joy at the spectacle.

The thunder and lightning storm persisted at a distance, but the sun started to shine beneath the clouds. A rainbow appeared over downtown.

As the sun continued to lower itself under the storm clouds, the most beautiful golden light made the atmosphere absolutely magical.

Vancouver, Hawaii

July 25 sunset

The event became even more surreal when the sky changed colour, from purple, to orange, to red, all the while white and purple lightning bolts forked out over the mountains, the city, and the suburbs. I never managed to capture the lightning on camera, but I assure you it was divine.

Surreal skies turned apocalyptic red. And it was in the torrential downpour overlooking a now-crimson Burrard Inlet at sunset that we decided it was a perfect time go for a swim!

Foolish, perhaps in retrospect, but it'll definitely be a moment I will never forget.


Colene said...

Wow, that's really great light in the last few shots. Great moments captured. You were brave enough to bring your camera into the water or is it waterproof?

Robyn said...

Thanks! :) The last few shots were actually taken by my boyfriend (I am the silhouette on the left in those shots - the girl in the hat in the previous shots!).

But no, it wasn't a waterproof camera, he had it wrapped in a towel and held it above his head and waded out until the water was up to his chest. It's the kind of bravery that only comes after drinking wine on the beach all afternoon. ;) But it made for some pretty killer shots.

Robyn said...

Thanks Mitch!

I don't remember there ever being such a spectacular sky in Vancouver, ever. If you go to Flickr and search for photos of that day and plug in the keyword "Vancouver" and "storm" or "lightning" or "sky" or whatever, the collection of photos out there is pretty awe-inspiring!

ubringliten said...


How cold was the water? Beautiful pictures as always.

Robyn said...


The water was warm! The sun had kept the sand warm all day when it was low tide, and when the tide came in, the sand just warmed the water.

Connie said...

Beautiful photos! I'm a Floridian, now living in a desert, and I miss the water in a terrible way. I grew up camping out on various lakes, and LOVED watching lightning over the water. You are right, maybe not the safest of sports, but the sights and energy is pure magic. Great photos too.

Robyn said...

Thanks for the comments! :) You're right - there is certainly a magic in the air, especially when the entire beach vacates and you're the only ones left. It's as if you have a private spectacle from Mother Nature herself!

Unknown said...

Was in Horseshoe Bay that evening waiting to take a boat out into English Bay for the fireworks (South Africa I believe!) and we watched the storm come in over the mountains and the air change, clouds forming over the mountains in minutes - and the lightening and thunder arrive......truly spectacular.......and the sky changed colour to orange - we never got the boat to the fireworks - it was too dangerous to go out on the water......but it is an evening I will never forget - travelling back on the express bus from Horseshoe Bay through the storm watching amazing colours in the sky. Robyn - your photos are great.......we didn't get any good photos at all.