This amazing photo of Tropical Storm Lee was captured by AccuWeather.com's own Valerie Smock while on a hurricane hunter mission Saturday, Sept. 3. Lee was just offshore of Louisiana when this picture was snapped.
This was before Lee unleashed torrents of rain from Louisiana to New York, causing disastrous flooding.
Valerie had the opportunity to join the hurricane hunters on the flight through Lee because of her position as a Public Affairs Specialist in the Air Force Reserve, which she does in addition to broadcasting the weather for AccuWeather.com.
Valerie also had the opportunity to join invest flight missions last week into Nate in the southwestern Gulf of Mexico and Maria near the Leeward Islands.
"It has definitely been a busy week," she told us. "I was able to fly through Tropical Storm Lee. We were supposed to fly back to Keesler Air Force Base in Mississippi, but the weather was so bad at the base because of Lee that we had to evacuate all of the aircraft to Ellington Field in Houston."
"Wednesday, I was on the flight that did an invest [mission] in the Gulf," Valerie continued. "That invest helped to determine whether or not to upgrade the system to a tropical storm. Once we landed, that system became Tropical Storm Nate."
In regard to her flight into Maria, Valerie said, "It was definitely a bumpy ride. I have never been on a plane ride that was as turbulent as that one. Tropical storms are actually a rougher ride than hurricanes, from what the hurricane hunters tell me."
As winds kicked up during her flight through Maria, lightning struck near the aircraft. "The window next to the flight meteorologist just lit up!" Valerie said.
"This whole trip has been amazing," she added. "I am very lucky to have the chance to be a part of this whole process. The hurricane hunters are a great group of people."
Here are more pictures from Valerie's Lee mission:
The 2014 Open Championship begins Thursday, July 17 and lasts through Sunday July 20.
The first part of this week will feel more like September than the middle of July, typically the hottest time of year, throughout the Midwest.
The hot weather seen across the Northwest over the weekend will carry over into the new week, continuing the risk of heat-related illness.
The Northeast and mid-Atlantic will be faced with severe thunderstorms and flooding downpours through at least Tuesday before the new week ends on a more refreshing note.
In the western Pacific, Tropical Storm Rammasun is on track to threaten the Philippines.
New York City, NY (1977)
A thunderstorm north of city struck a power plant at 9:34 p.m., setting off a chain reaction and a power failure that would last into the following day. Looting resulted and a billion dollars worth of merchandise was lost.
Memphis, TN (1980)
108 degrees -- all-time record high.
Walker, IA (1992)
3.5 inches of rain in just one hour caused stream and river flooding.