John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
Checking in on the winners of a National Weather Service contest.
Where’s the most gorgeous weather in America? The misty, rainbow-swept cliffs of Hawaii? The pristine, sofa-sized snow drifts of Maine? Florida’s sultry, lightning-flashed beaches?
Actually, a strong case could be made for Chicago and its pancake-flat suburbs. The city’s notoriously frigid winters bring spectacular landscapes of ice and fog, while warm-and-cold air masses clashing in the summer conjure storms that seem to hearken the end of times.
The region’s thrilling atmosphere is well-documented by the National Weather Service’s Chicago office, which holds a weekly Facebook contest to determine the latest, greatest nature photography. Judging from recent winners, 2015’s skies are going to be a hard act to follow. There’s been a horizon-spanning sun halo, a sun turned bloody red from forest fires, a thundercloud reminiscent of the Tsar Bomba detonation, and many other pulse-revving phenomena.
The weather service has given permission to publish some of the year’s winning photos; here they are in chronological order: