Here are the winners of NOAA’s “Weather in Focus” photo contest.

With a Bang. Third place, “Weather, Water, and Climate” (Bob Larson)

Massive thunderstorm or sucking nuclear vortex to the Zorb universe? That’s a question you might ask marveling at the above shot from Prescott, Arizona,* which this week won an award in NOAA’s ”Weather in Focus” photo contest.

The agency and its judges—including the National Weather Service’s Douglas Hilderbrand, the National Press Club’s Darlene Shields, and the Washington Post’s Jason Samenow—reviewed more than 2,000 submissions to pick out these examples of the nation’s raging, majestic, often sublime meteorology. (Find a partial sampling below.) The winning photos, most taken since the beginning of 2014, will go on exhibit in July at NOAA’s campus in Silver Spring, Maryland.

It’s hard to argue with the power of many of these images—a ghostly red “proton arc” stretches over Lake Superior, a storm explodes over the horizon like earth kicked up from an asteroid impact. If you like this kind of stuff, check out some of the country’s other great weather photographers, including (personal bias alert) hellish-storm chaser Mike Hollingshead, Great Lakes chronicler James Montanus, and cloud whisperer Greg Thow.

Stars Behind the Storm. First place, “Professional Submission” (Brad Goddard)
A Tornado Churns Up Dust In Sunset Light Near Traer, Iowa. Second place, “Professional Submission” (Brad Goddard)
Proton Arc Over Lake Superior. Second place, “Weather, Water, and Climate” (Ken William)
Snow Express. First place, “Weather, Water, and Climate” (Conrad Stenftenagel)
A Tornado Crosses the Path, Reinbeck, Iowa. Third place, “Professional Submission” (Brad Goddard)
Fog Rolls In From the Ocean on a Hot Summer Day. Honorable mention, “Professional Submission” (Robert Raia)
Fire In the Sky Over Glacier National Park. Honorable mention, “Weather, Water, and Climate” (Sashikanth Chintla)
Photographer Captures the Aurora. Second place, “Science in Action” (Christopher Morse)

* Correction: NOAA originally had credited this photo to “Mike Whitlow.” It was taken by Bob Larson, who didn’t actually enter the contest but will see the work hang in the exhibit nonetheless. Says Larson on Facebook: “This stuff is happening all the time with this photo, I get a couple messages a week from very nice people who have seen it (and others) on some other site credited to someone else.”

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