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Massive Thunderstorm Approaching in the Amazon Rainforest - nature soundscape -

Massive Thunderstorm Approaching in the Amazon Rainforest

Recordist: George Vlad
Javari Valley, Brazil
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A thunderstorm of epic proportions on the horizon in the Amazon rainforest – with almost continuous lightning, thunder, wind and a little rain.

I recently travelled to the Amazon rainforest on the tri-border area of Brazil, Colombia and Peru. I was there in the so-called dry season, but that really doesn’t mean much. In tropical and equatorial rainforests, the dry season is actually quite rainy, and the rainy season is even more wet. This was the case on my expedition too, with several of these awe-inspiring thunderstorms happening in the space of a few weeks.

Having spent extensive time in tropical and equatorial rainforests, I’m used to loud thunder, powerful lightning, heavy winds and rain, and generally massive thunderstorms. What was new for me in this part of the Amazon is that I could see these thunderstorms on the horizon, sometimes for hours before they hit.

On this one evening, there was not one but two thunderstorms happening in the distance, with amazing lightning but with almost zero thunder sound reaching me. That in itself was a curiously disconnected experience. I was surrounded by the sounds of the rainforest and could barely hear the low rumble of distant rolling thunder. I felt suspended in a weird limbo where the thunderstorms were real but I could only perceive them with one of my senses. Soon enough this magic was broken as the sound started to reach me.

I had ample time to sit on the porch of my hut and observe the epic clouds in the distance. I took my time shooting photos and videos, and even a timelapse of a massive Cumulonimbus incus cloud taking over the local sky. I also had 5 sound recording rigs placed in various parts of the rainforest, although only one of them managed to capture the extreme dynamic range well.

Thunder, rain and wind aren’t the only elements in this soundscape. The jungle is teeming with wildlife, and at this time of day – after the dusk chorus – the insects take over. Occasionally some frogs join in as well. It’s a beautifully rounded ambience full of heavy contrast and perfectly immersive, with elements from close by and far away mixing together beautifully.

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