John Metcalfe is CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, based in Oakland. His coverage focuses on climate change and the science of cities.
Here are the winners of NOAA’s “Weather in Focus” photo contest.
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.
* 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.”