NASA recently announced the winners of its GPM Extreme Weather Photo Competition, and they certainly live up to the moniker GPM, which stands for Global Precipitation Measurement.
Among the winners was Jason Weingart’s shot of a shelf cloud during a storm in Ormond Beach, Florida, in May. A photography student and storm chaser, Weingart drove to one of his favorite spots for taking photos even as the National Weather Service issued severe weather warnings. When he arrived at the spot, he noticed that he wasn’t the only person to ignore the warnings, as there were spectators watching the storm and surfers still in the water, he told NASA.
A lifeguard signals surfers to come in as a storm approaches; photo courtesy Weingart
“Of course, there was a Volusia County lifeguard standing there watching over everyone. I walked down to the water and took some shots, always keeping an eye on the lifeguard. As the shelf cloud approached, I swung back behind the guard tower, waited for him to climb up it and signal to the surfers to exit the water,” Weingart told NASA. “I took several shots, then hopped back in my car and tried to stay south of the storm.” To view more of Weingart’s photography, click here.
Grant W. Petty’s photo winner of a thunderstorm in Dane County, Wisconsin, last year came as he and members of a photo club were attempting to capture barn animals. “I was out on a farm with a photography club for the purpose of photographing farm life–animals, barns, etc. I saw this impressive thunderstorm building several miles to the east of where we were and ended up focusing on that while the others in the group continued to follow the goats and horses around,” he told NASA. “This is one of many examples of how a completely unplanned photo wound up being among my best photos.”
Petty also said the storm produced hail up to 1-inch in diameter. He would know; he works as a professor of atmospheric science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Petty captured this thunderstorm while ignoring barn animals
Journalist and amateur photographer Brian Allen’s shot of three lightning bolts during a September storm over Washington, D.C., was something he lucked into. “Unfortunately, not a terribly cool story–I just happen to have an apartment with an amazing view of the city. The storm that blew through started off with an incredible amount of lightning and then dumped a significant amount of rain in a short amount of time–on the other side of the river. DC got drenched and Arlington didn’t see a drop,” he wrote to NASA. To view more of Allen’s photography, click here.
Three lightning bolts over Washington, D.C., as seen from Allen’s apartment
Photographer Meggan Wood’s shot of a sand storm roiling through Maricopa, Arizona, last year also won the NASA contest. The sand storm made national news, as it was one of the biggest in recent history for Phoenix, enveloping it and a few of its surrounding cities, even closing down its airport, according to reports. Wood, herself, was almost swept into the storm. “I barely had time to get back to my car before it hit and I was engulfed! The darkness was surprising but it only lasted about 10 to 15 minutes before it thinned out enough to where I could drive back home, only about two minutes away,” she told NASA. To view more of Wood’s photography, click here.
Photographer Wood took this photo of a monstrous sand storm near Phoenix from a wash near her home
The NASA contest also included many worthy photo submissions that didn’t earn a top prize, such as photographer Jack Wassell’s stunning shot of a lightning bolt that he took over Misquamicut Beach, Rhode Island, while vacationing with his family during the July 4th holiday. “After watching a rather dull firework display, a huge thunderstorm passed by, which produced some great lightning strikes over the water. I quickly got out my camera and started shooting,” he said. To view more of Wassell’s photos, click here.
Wassell captured some of nature’s fireworks on July 4th in Rhode Island
Jeffrey Johnson’s “Squall” was another arresting photo submission to the contest. He took the shot in August as a towering cold front passed through northern New Jersey. “As viewed from my home office window, this image shows rain falling from a small cloud burst,” he said of the photo. To view more of Johnson’s work, click here.
Johnson shot this photo from his home office in northern New Jersey
Photographer Chris L. Grohusko was also among the many photographers who entered the contest, and he captured a shot of multi-spoke lightning in El Paso, Texas, in August while speaking to a police officer and using 30 seconds of exposure on his Canon EOS Rebel T2i. “I decided to try and take a shot during the heavy lightning storm and got a very lucky shot. According to the National Weather Service of Santa Teresa, New Mexico, this is multi-spoke lightning and it is rare to have been caught so pronounced in 30 seconds of exposure,” he said. To view more of his work, click here.
Photo of multi-spoke lightning in El Paso, Texas, copyright 2012 Chris L. Grohusko
The submission period for NASA’s first installment of its GPM photo contest occurred last month. GPM is an “international satellite mission that will help advance our understanding of Earth’s water and energy cycles, improve the forecasting of extreme events that cause natural disasters, and extend current precipitation measurement capabilities by using accurate and timely information of rain and snow.” To view all of NASA’s photo submissions, click here.
All photos are courtesy the photographers and are protected by copyright laws.
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