"Weather Permitting" Photo Blog
AccuWeather's 'Weather Permitting' photo blog: Cool pics of the weather -- when the weather permits. All photos are used with permission.
Rachel Gordon was treated to a textbook display of what meteorologists call Kelvin-Helmholtz wave clouds over the Big Horn Mountains near Sheridan, Wyoming, on Dec. 6, 2022. She told AccuWeather: "We've never seen them to that extent before. But there are quite a few unique clouds here [in Wyoming]. They just reminded me of ocean waves and I was in awe."
Kelvin-Helmholtz waves occur in unstable atmospheric conditions when air varies in density due to different temperatures. These waves in the sky are formed similarly to ocean waves, with high winds blowing over a stable layer of air, sculpting the flat clouds into wave formations. As air moves over them, the waves continually crest in the same place. They can be found almost anywhere, but rarely ever appear. Kelvin-Helmholtz clouds can also cause trouble for pilots, indicating turbulence in the air.
These waves in the sky are formed similarly to ocean waves, with high winds blowing over the water, sculpting the flat water into wave formations, according to AccuWeather meteorologists.
A pulse thundershower showing a rare example of a cumulus congestus cloud as seen from a beach in Gulf Shores, Alabama, on July 17, 2016. (Photo courtesy of Rick Geiss)
“I guess I’m kind of famous,” says Rick Geiss. He and his wife, Suzy, of Gulf Shores, Alabama, were at the beach with friends who were in town visiting one hot summer day when they decided to step away for a few minutes to grab some lunch. Lo and behold, when they came back – there it was: A towering cloud mushroomed, right before their eyes. Rick grabbed his cell and quickly snapped some shots. The resulting image was a captivating view of Mother Nature in full force.
Many aptly referred to the formation as a “mushroom cloud,” others dubbed it a “volcano cloud” due to its fluffy cone shape. Harry Potter fans thought it bore a striking resemblance to the sorting hat, like one last month in southwest Florida. Hmm. “But I called it a Christmas tree cloud,” Rick mused.
Luckily, he acted swiftly in snapping the photo. “It didn’t last very long. Rain was falling out of the bottom and then it dissipated in like 10 minutes,” Rick told AccuWeather in a recent interview. He posted the “Christmas tree” on his Facebook page and then forgot all about the amazing shot. Until, two years later. Rick was watching the local weather report on TV when they asked viewers for their favorite weather photos. And, as Rick aptly noted, “the rest is history.” Kansas weather broadcaster Jake Dunne, at the time a meteorologist for WPMI-TV15 in Mobile, Alabama, posted Rick’s photo on Twitter and it went viral. “Quite possibly the best example of a mushroom cloud I have ever seen!” Dunne tweeted.
“It is very unique,” Rick acknowledged. Such short-lived, single-cell or pulse thundershowers pop up during hot, humid days and can last as long as 30 minutes, according to the National Weather Service. “Generally, clouds don’t rise straight up because atmospheric winds tilt storms in, or the storm’s movement shears clouds off the front or drags them behind. This was a rare example of cumulus congestus cloud, as if it had been drawn for a textbook,” said Jesse Ferrell, AccuWeather senior weather editor. Photos of similar cloud formations have since sprung up, like this one taken on Memorial Day weekend 2014 of a rainbow and rainshaft in Carr, Colorado.
Most people have only seen the northern lights in photos, but viewing them in person is a different experience. Markus Varik, a veteran aurora guide, isn't surprised by much about the lights, but what he saw on the night of October 2, 2022, over Tromso, Norway took his breath away.
Varik told SpaceWeather.com, "I have been guiding Aurora tours full-time for the past 10 years. I was thinking, 'I have pretty much seen it all.' Little did I know, there was a surprise waiting for me. We were fortunate to head out early for an aurora chase and due to that, we were able to witness some of the most intense pinks I have ever seen. It was so obviously pink to the naked eye, we were all just stunned."
"The incredible thing about this nitrogen-fueled purple [aurora color]," Varik explained on Facebook, "is [that] it looks the same to the naked eye compared to the green, which is almost always stronger inside the camera. Notice how even some of the clouds are turned purple by [the] amazingly colorful auroras!"
Photographers flocked to the Harz Mountains in central Germany on Oct. 23 to capture breathtaking images of the fall foliage at its peak, but the colorful mountainsides were seemingly cut in half. Images taken from the sky revealed a sharp divide between the vibrant foliage and a patch of dead trees, a scene that has become prevalent in parts of Germany in recent years in part due to the weather.
Hot and dry summers over the past five years have contributed to a boom in the bark beetle population. The tiny critter is less than one-quarter of an inch long, but in enough numbers, they can infest and kill entire groves of trees. Over 500,000 hectares of forest have been decimated by the beetles since 2018, according to EuroNews. Spruce trees are more susceptible to infestation than other trees, but the bark beetle can still impact other species of trees.
“We have large-scale forest dieback. It is a catastrophe,” Bavarian State Forest Office Agent Matthias Lindig said. “What was built up through generations, was destroyed in just three years.” The increase in dead trees due to the bark beetle has contributed to the uptick in wildfire activity across Germany during the summer months.
It was a foggy fall morning in New York City on Tuesday, Oct. 25, with dense fog shrouding the city skyline. The fog was so thick that people could not see across the East River, making the Brooklyn Bridge look like it was disappearing into the clouds. This photograph of the Brooklyn Bridge stretching into the fog was taken in Dumbo, New York, only 2,000 feet away from Lower Manhattan. Most days, people in Dumbo can easily see Manhattan on the other side of the East River.
The fog created more than just mesmerizing sights. Over 300 flights were delayed at LaGuardia Airport, according to FlightAware, with airport officials blaming the weather for the travel disruptions. Visibility at the airport was less than one-quarter of a mile for more than five hours, including the entirety of the Tuesday morning commute. Dense fog also impacted travel in other cities along the Interstate-95 corridor, including in Boston, where near-zero visibility was contributing to flight delays at Boston Logan International Airport. The fog finally lifted around lunchtime, as seen on the Brooklyn Bridge Earthcam and AccuWeather satellite.
The Brooklyn neighborhood's name does not come from the movie elephant. It is an acronym for "Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass" -- a moniker given to the area just before the year 2000. Previously, it had been known variously as Rapailie, Olympia, and Walentasville. Dumbo has the highest concentration of tech firms by neighborhood in New York City.
AccuWeather Business Development Director and Mayor of State College, Pennslyvania, Ezra Nanes captured a brilliant double rainbow over AccuWeather's headquarters on the evening of Oct. 19, 2022. The sun also highlighted the colorful autumn leaves as the cold rain ended. It was a fitting tribute to AccuWeather's 60th Anniversary, which is being celebrated this fall.
Since its founding by Dr. Joel N. Myers in 1962, AccuWeather has revolutionized the field of weather forecasting and its extraordinary forecast accuracy has been responsible for saving tens of thousands of lives in the United States and more around the world.
On the night of Sep. 10, 2022, Nicolas Escurat took a long-exposure photo with his DSLR camera and captured something people rarely see -- because its lifespan is measured in hundredths of seconds. The brilliant, red electrical display appeared over a thunderstorm in France and vanished as quickly as it formed.
It wasn't until the late 1980s that scientists aboard Space Shuttle Discovery confirmed the new atmospheric phenomenon. Known as "sprites," the red lights are one of several TLEs (Transient Luminous Events) that occur in the mesosphere, far above an active thunderstorm, triggered by powerful lightning.
Two weeks earlier, on Aug. 26, 2022, in the Czech Republic, Daniel Ščerba captured a similar photo. The two photos illustrate how widely different the sprite displays can be.
Persistence, patience, and the right equipment are required to photograph this phenomenon. Ščerba, who has been photographing sprites for eight years, told AccuWeather via Facebook that he took 4500 photos that night, only to catch 14 pics actually showing sprites. "I mainly use modified Sony A7S cameras with active sensor cooling and the IR filter removed, to capture the color spectrum more extensively," he explained.
After reports of strange clouds hovering amongst skyscrapers in the Windy City on August 5, 2022, Chicago's veteran meteorologist Tom Skilling took to Facebook to explain:
"Anyone who has lived in or traveled through Chicago over the years has watched on occasion as clouds develop over parts of the downtown area," Skilling said. "They're localized and fascinating to view. It's an interesting process and the cloud that forms can appear to hover there for a time."
"The clouds are formed by two meteorological processes: orographic lifting, and wind convergence. The former is most commonly observed with lenticular clouds, which form when air rises over mountains, cooling and condensing. The cloud continually regenerates over the mountain as the air moves through it.
The tall buildings of the Chicago skyline can produce orographic lift as well, with help from wind converging on the shoreline buildings and being forced upwards. Skilling put it this way: “Winds off Lake Michigan can do the darndest things when in contact with land and buildings.”
The phenomenon is interesting to see from the ground but even more mesmerizing from the Earthcam webcam located in Skydeck Chicago at the top of Willis Tower, as a timelapse from July 18, 2022 shows.
Did you know? The Willis Tower is the skyscraper most frequently struck by lightning, according to a study performed by AccuWeather in 2021.
An AtlasV rocket launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, at 6:29 a.m. EDT on Aug. 4, 2022. Although it was dark outside when the rocket blasted off, it eventually reached sunlight, which turned its vapor contrail from blue to purple, then orange, and finally yellow as it moved higher above the Earth.
This particular rocket was carrying the sixth and final SBIRS satellite into orbit for the U.S. Department of Defense's Space Force. The Space Based-Infrared System satellite constellation is "a critical constellation of missile warning satellites that expands the U.S. military’s situational awareness on the battlefield and beyond," according to the United Launch Alliance, which sent the rocket into space.
Meteorologists always recommend the window seat on an airplane, because you never know what fascinating weather phenomena you might see. Meteorologist Kody Wilson was flying home to Colorado on July 22, 2022, when he got an amazing view of a thunderstorm.
Wilson told AccuWeather, "I was on a United flight from Orlando to Denver. I was monitoring storms on our approach, and our flight path took us directly to the south of a rotating mesocyclone. Right place, right time!"
"Scored an absolute JACKPOT on my flight to Denver this evening," Wilson tweeted. "Tornadic supercell over SW Kansas at 34,000 feet."
Seeing a thunderstorm on the ground can be spectacular, but seeing a storm from the air can reveal important mechanisms you can't always view, because of buildings, trees or hills. An illustration of a supercell thunderstorm by the NOAA Storm Prediction Center, which also uses an aerial photo, points out the parts of the storm that you can see in Wilson's photos. High- level winds carry the thunderstorm's anvil cloud away from its updraft and rotating mid-level mesocyclone, while converging low-level winds bring fresh energy into the storm at the Earth's surface.
Glacier Park's Going-to-the-Sun Road - the only highway that crosses through the entire national park - winds 50 miles through the Montana mountains, peaking at Logan Pass, which is 6,466 feet above sea level. Due to heavy snow near the top, higher parts of the road are only typically open from June to October. On June 24, the National Park Service reported that continued snowstorms had delayed the clearing of the road.
The Going-to-the-Sun Road finally reopened on July 13, 2022, tying the record latest opening date set in 2011 due to excess snow (and 2020 due to COVID). Although the highway was accessible, the National Park Service said that the nearby Highline trail could not reopen yet, due to "extreme and life-threatening danger" from "snow and high-angled snowfields."
While the road is no longer clogged with snow, some parkgoers will still not be able to take the breathtaking journey. Starting this year, Glacier National Park instituted a reservation system for the road to reduce congestion on Going-to-the-Sun, one of the most popular roads in the entire National Park system.
Meteorologist Dustin Guy was pulling a night shift at the National Weather Service office in Seattle, Washington on the first day of July when he saw unusual, glowing clouds in the nighttime sky.
As AccuWeather reminded viewers in May, summer is the best time to find this phenomenon, known as "Noctilucent" clouds, which are most commonly viewed at Arctic latitudes. Seeing them as far south as the northern United States is a rare treat and the NWS said on Twitter that this was the best display in years, adding, "What a way to start July!"
Also called "electric blue clouds," Noctilucent clouds are formed approximately 50 miles above the Earth's surface, nearly touching the edge of space, while most clouds are found at under 10 miles up. Like all high-level clouds, Noctilucent clouds are made up of ice crystals, but these crystals form on dust particles left behind by passing meteors when temperatures are very low. Despite summer being warmer on the ground, the coldest conditions of the year in the cloud's high altitudes take place during the season, and are the impetus for the cloud's formation.
Highlighting one of the spectacular entries we've received so far, lightning illuminates the night sky in Chongqing, China, in this amazing capture by erynnnyesv. The photographer says that the city was under a rare "category 8 gale" warning on April 13, 2022, when thunderstorms sliced through the area from west to east.
Chongqing is an inland city of more than 31 million people situated at the junction of the Jialing and Yangtze rivers. High temperatures can reach well over 100 degrees F (38 C) in August, and it's very rare for the temperature to dip below freezing (0 C), even in the winter. More than 100 days each year, Chongqing is surrounded by mist, giving it the nickname "Fog City."
Residents emerging from their homes at sunset in Ada, Oklahoma, on the evening of May 15 were treated to a scary but beautiful sight. In what appears to be tightly-packed cotton balls hanging from above, these menacing-looking clouds -- called mammatus clouds -- filled the sky in an incredible display from Mother Nature.
Wes Edens snapped these pictures about 9 miles west of Ada, the first photo backlit by lightning. Social media also lit up with additional photos and videos showing the never-ending pink and purple pouches.
While they may look rather threatening, mammatus clouds aren’t necessarily an indicator that severe weather is about to unfold. Unlike most clouds that are created by rising air, the bulbous mammatus clouds typically develop after a thunderstorm has cleared and air sinks. This isn't the first time mammatus clouds have been featured on this blog. Scroll down to see more.
The town of Ada was made famous by John Grisham's book The Innocent Man in 2006, which was turned into a Netflix series in 2018.
It's time once again for photographers around the world to join us for the 2022 Weather Photographer of the Year contest, in association with the Royal Meteorological Society. Weather photos can be categorized by type, as you'd expect - clouds, rainbows, lightning... but there's one weather event that's ubiquitous, yet hard to capture on film: Rain.
One way to illustrate water falling from the sky is to catch wildlife protesting the rain. Their reaction is not unlike ours when caught unprepared. In this image by Charley Nicholls that was submitted to the 2020 contest, a fox looks miserable when caught in a heavy downpour.
Did you know? Raindrops often appear as a streak on camera because they fall so fast – but real raindrops are spherical when they form, and hamburger-shaped as the air slows them on their way down. A one-inch rainstorm can provide over 2 billion gallons of water for a large city, according to the USGS Rainfall Calculator.
A wondrous photo taken over Victoria Falls, Zambia, shows the rushing waters illuminating the phenomenon known as a moonbow. The conditions for the nighttime rainbow splendor are rare, but can produce amazing visual results.
Moonbows, reports say, were first reported by famous ancient philosopher Aristotle all the way back in 350 BC. The event occurs when light from a bright full moon collides with airborne water droplets. The best places in the world to see the colorful display are waterfalls, as the clearer weather and mist from the waterfall allow water droplets to make the moonbow appear.
As for timing, the preferred time to see a moonbow is either a couple of hours after the sun sets, or before it rises in the morning. Due to the scarce amount of light a full moon provides in comparison to the sun, the phenomenon may come through faint. However, the power of modern cameras makes capturing the excitement possible when using a long exposure, as done here.
NOAA National Severe Storms Laboratory researcher and Ph.D. Mike Coniglio studies dynamics and characteristics of severe convective weather systems. He took this photo of a thunderstorm while storm chasing on May 27, 2019 in Imperial, Nebraska. Strong supercell thunderstorms like this one which begin to rotate can exhibit cloud striations that some liken to a large flying saucer, and are colloquially called "mothership clouds."
The Imperial storm was described as a "textbook" supercell by storm chasers and was so notable that it was featured in a Washington Post article that called it a "pancake-stacked supercell" and showcased photos of videos of the massive storm. Andrew Colantoni described it as a "very picturesque storm" and uploaded a timelapse video to Twitter, in which you can see the huge storm spinning as it approaches the photographer.
A radar image showing the storm near the time of the photograph is available in the gallery below. The severe storm dropped a tornado and hail up to 2.5 inches in diameter near Lamar, Colorado earlier that afternoon before moving into Nebraska.
On Apr. 4, 2020, the National Weather Service office in Los Angeles, California, tweeted a photo out to followers asking "Did you happen to look up and notice weird UFO-looking clouds?" Sure enough, weather watchers across southern California had, and they picked up their cameras to document the event, as atmospheric waves created beautiful skies over the region.
Climatologist and storm chaser William Reid, who recently helped AccuWeather explain the allure of California weather, took the opportunity to capture the phenomenon over Westlake Village as well, blogging that "the yellow flowers provided a decent foreground to the skyscape." Reid also noted that NOAA satellites showed what the view looked like from high above the Earth.
Rather than forming as a cloud that moves away, lenticular clouds appear to stay still, while in reality the air is constantly moving through them, becoming high enough to condense into moisture droplets, then moving downstream where it becomes dry and the cloud disappears. Scroll down to see some other perspectives of lenticular clouds that have previously been featured in Weather Permitting.
The United States Department of Interior posted this stunning photo of a sunrise over Hawaii in 2019. Beautiful natural shades of color can be seen in the photo as the sun peeks above the clouds situated over the island. The photo was taken at the summit of the volcano at Haleakalā National Park, which tops out at just over 10,000 feet above sea level. The photographer, Saurabh Trivedi, won the "Share The Experience" contest in the Seasons and Landscapes category with this breathtaking photo.
Haleakalā National Park is home to Haleakalā crater, which is located on the island of Maui and takes up three-quarters of the island's 727 square miles. Haleakalā crater is a dormant volcano with remarkable sunrises that Mark Twain in his 1872 book Roughing It wrote "was the sublimest spectacle I ever witnessed, and I think the memory of it will remain with me always." The name of the location is a proud reminder of the unique scenes it brings, as the word Haleakalā means "house of the sun" in Hawaiian.
What would you think if you saw these clouds in the sky? They look otherworldly! In fact, this type of cloud wasn't even officially named until 2017, making it the first new cloud to be added to the World Meteorological Organization’s official cloud classification atlas in more than 50 years.
Lee Killen took these photos on Apr. 11, 2022 in Forest, Mississippi. Asperitus clouds are unusual, but not particularly rare, and appear only at intersections of very dry air at the surface and moist air aloft, which gives them a distinctive "meringue" appearance. They are constantly changing in form, as shown in this popular YouTube timelapse video showcasing Asperitus clouds in Nebraska in 2014. They can also be found on the underside of "gravity wave" clouds as shown in this video.
Young leaves filled trees with the color green after spring sprang early in Germany following a warmer-than-average March. April then came in like a lion with a blast of cold air and a rare snowstorm that left its mark on the country. Photographer Michael Probst captured the sharp contrast between two seasons in one aerial photo of a park in Frankfurt, Germany, after a snowstorm on April 2.
Snow accumulation varied primarily on elevation, ranging from less than an inch at the Frankfurt International Airport to 6 inches just outside the city of Frankfurt, at higher elevations. On record, snow has only fallen nine times in the month of April in Germany since the year 2000, and this was the first accumulating snow in the city of Frankfurt during the month of April since April 14, 2001, making this photo a once
An employee at the New York State Thruway Authority in Albany, New York, took a picture of what meteorologists call a "complex display" of atmospheric optics on the morning of March 10, 2022. That day, the state had been thrown back into winter, with a morning temperature reading of only 20 degrees Fahrenheit, and the city was in between two late-season snowstorms.
The sun appeared as a flame, a teardrop-shaped orb, owing partly to overexposure from the camera, and partly the ice fog through which it emerged. Upper and, much smaller, lower sun pillars radiated out from the top and bottom of the sun, filtered through tiny ice crystals in the atmosphere. The earth's star boasted a 22-degree halo, with brighter spots to the left and right, called "sundogs" or "mock suns." Finally, an upper-tangent arc graces the top of the scene.
At 570 miles, the Governor Thomas E. Dewey Thruway, a superhighway crossing New York State, is one of the longest toll highways in the United States. It connects New York City to Albany, Syracuse and Buffalo, and leads to other turnpike systems in Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Jersey. In an average year, a quarter of a billion vehicles travel on the thruway.
As the International Space Station was orbiting over the northwest Atlantic Ocean near Nova Scotia, it caught a stunning view of towering cumulus clouds bursting into the atmosphere. According to NASA, the photograph, captured on Nov. 4, 2021, was taken by one of the station’s External High-Definition Cameras, one of which streams on the internet in real-time.
NASA credits the incredible detail in this photo to the angle of the camera, which was looking only partly at the light source. Because of this, the shadows of the clouds are evident in the photos, and they appear in stark contrast to the bright cloud tops and the sunlight reflecting off the ocean, making the fine detail of each cloud clear.
While the clouds at the front of the photograph aren’t threatening, large thunderstorms loom toward the back, as evidenced by their signature "anvil clouds." Anvil clouds, associated with cumulonimbus (thunderstorm) clouds, form when rising air reaches a level in the atmosphere where it is no longer able to rise and instead is forced to spread outward, creating an anvil-like shape that can spread horizontally for many miles. Another famous photo of an anvil cloud was shot from the ISS in February 2008 and can be seen above.
Nature photographer Beth Reynolds snapped a striking photo of a dust storm moving through Death Valley, California, on Feb. 15, 2022. At the same time, just down the road, another photographer, Chris Attrell, pulled over to the side of the road when he noticed a dust devil, out ahead of the huge wall of dust approaching from the north. Meanwhile, NOAA's GOES-17 satellite was filming the whole thing from above.
Dust storms, known meteorologically as "haboobs," form when a thunderstorm's downburst winds push dust out ahead of the storm. That day in February, when the dust storm reached the Furnace Creek weather station at the visitor's center in Death Valley, the instruments indicated a sudden change in wind direction, swinging from south to north, and an increase in wind speed from around 10 mph to over 30 mph.
Death Valley holds the official world's highest temperature record, 134 degrees F, set in 1913, although that reading is disputed by some researchers. The site has come close to that record heat recently -- the official thermometer at Death Valley soared to 130 degrees F in July 2021. Other notable weather historical occurrences in Death Valley include an unusual flood in 2019, as well as extremely rare snowfall in 1932.
A thunderstorm had just passed through the area when Markus Schreiber, a photographer for The Associated Press, captured a stunning image of massive, bulging clouds blanketing the sky over the famous Ernst-Thalmann-Park and a surrounding housing estate in Berlin, Germany, on March 11, 2021.
In what appears as tightly packed cotton balls hanging from above, these menacing-looking clouds -- called mammatus clouds -- filled the sky in an incredible display from Mother Nature. Unlike most clouds that are created by rising air, the bulbous mammatus clouds typically develop after a thunderstorm has cleared and air sinks. But in order for these uniquely shaped clouds to form, the sinking air must be cooler than the air around it and have a high water or ice content. And while they may look rather threatening, mammatus clouds aren’t necessarily an indicator of severe weather, like a tornado.
A similar sight was shot near Vilnius, Lithuania, last spring by storm chaser Mindaugas Gasparavičius, who captured striking photos of mammatus clouds appearing on the backside of a heavy, convective snow shower. Scroll down to check out the extraordinary shots of the mammatus clouds Gasparavičius caught.
The National Weather Service office in Fairbanks, Alaska, shared a photo of its doppler radar with a beautiful sunrise on Jan. 7, 2022. The office said on Twitter: "We are really jealous of the sunset views that our radar gets to witness on clear days. Panoramic view of the Alaska Range (including Denali to the right), as well as the city of Fairbanks just to the right of the radar, tucked away in the cold valley."
Fairbanks is on track for a record seasonal snowfall this season, with almost 70 inches of snow already, nearly twice last winter. On the day the photo was taken, the temperature dipped to 37 degrees F below zero, part of a week of low temperatures ranging from 28 below to 47 below, quite colder than the normal winter minimum of 18 below zero.
Fairbanks, a city with a population of 32,000, is just below the Arctic Circle. As a result, the amount of daylight varies from less than 4 hours per day to nearly 22 hours between the winter and summer solstices. The local travel bureau boasts that the city has the "world's best aurora viewing" with the northern lights visible eight months of the year. The famous aurora borealis lights were the subject of a previous entry in this photo blog on Apr. 16, 2021, titled "Aurora over Alaska doing its best impression of a hurricane."
Houston Hill was sitting outside with friends when he saw a mysterious spectacle appear over the sky in northwest Arkansas on January 31, 2022. Like many who saw it from surrounding states, he had no idea what it was, so he posted it to Facebook.
At the same time, Lori Escalanta of Oologah, Oklahoma took a cellphone photo of the same swirl and sent it to Twitter, asking her local meteorologist what it was. In fact, meteorologists were flooded with reports and took to social media to explain what it was. People witnessed the fascinating event from North Dakota all the way down to Oklahoma and Arkansas.
According to Space.com, these spiral-shaped clouds have been witnessed after SpaceX launches in the past and are created when the rocket vents its remaining fuel after delivering the satellite into orbit around the Earth. According to AccuWeather Astronomy multimedia journalist Brian Lada, the fuel from the rocket was so high up in the atmosphere that it was still being illuminated by the sun, which had long ago set. This is why the "clouds" appeared to be glowing in the clear sky, which was provided by a high-pressure system over the Rocky Mountains.
Nature photographer Karl Ramsdell is no stranger to ice … he routinely skates and bikes on icy lakes in New England. While skating on Mirror Lake in New Hampshire on Dec. 30, 2020, Ramsdell noticed an interesting pattern on the ice, and was astounded by what his drone showed.
He said on Facebook, "I knew we were skating on something crazy that morning. I was thinking to myself, 'Why is the ice striped?' At that moment, I realized the drone was hanging out in the car so I skated back to get it. When I sent it up I couldn’t believe my eyes. I’ll always be thankful I had my drone that day even though it annoyed my buddies when I launched it. Of course later that night they all were like 'dude can you send me those pics?'"
Dr. Gordon Giesbrecht, an environmental physiologist at the University of Manitoba affectionately known as "Professor Popsicle" previously spoke with AccuWeather about how to endure cold weather. Giesbrecht knows the reason for the rings, and says on his website that the weight of snow on ice can cause an initial crack that then radiates outward.
"The rings probably form one at a time … they appear to be a result of water flowing up through the most recently formed ring crack, and radially outward until the weight of the snow breaks the black ice layer. By then there enough weight has built up to crack the ice at the edge of the newly saturated ring. The new crack allows the water to flow up and repeat the process," Dr. Giesbrecht wrote.
Ramsdell told AccuWeather via Facebook Messenger: "I'll never see anything like that again in my life -- that’s for sure. I’ve never met anyone who has. It was only like this for a day. Next day snow ruined it. Lucky I had my drone!"
Patrons were dining above the clouds at the Le Sommet restaurant on the Moléson summit in Gruyère, Switzerland, on Aug. 25, 2021. The region of Gruyère is known for both the popular cheese that shares the same name and Moléson mountain, which offers 360 degrees of beautiful views of the Pre-Alps, according to MySwitzerland.
"It is like watching a live painting, with the wind the clouds are moving fast, [sometimes] covering the area," Denis Balibouse, the photographer for Reuters who took the photo, told AccuWeather.As visitors of the summit enjoyed the view, a temperature abnormality was likely what led to the layer of clouds that surrounded them.
The photo probably depicts an example of “cloud inversion,” according to Paul Walker, a senior meteorologist with AccuWeather. A cloud inversion, or weather inversion, occurs when the normal distribution of temperature in the air flips upside down. While the air typically gets colder the higher up in the atmosphere it is, a cloud inversion happens when the cold layer of air is trapped below a warm level.“The cold air cannot hold as much moisture as the warm [air] before becoming saturated and clouds forming,” Walker said. “So you often have a deck of clouds or fog at the lower levels and drier and clearer skies above.”
A live webcam is available at the top of the mountain. At over 6,500 feet, temperatures rarely get out of the 50s during the summer, and can get down to around 20 in winter. According to Balibouse, the beautiful sight is often referred to as “La Mer de Nuages,” which translates to “sea of clouds” in English. The sight is a common one to see on the summit, and, Balibouse said, in the winter it often serves as a great way to get a bit of sunlight and enjoy some warmer weather.
Eric Snodgrass, an atmospheric scientist, captured an unusal frosty phenomenon on top of a frozen "Lake of the Woods" in Mahomet, Illinois, on the morning of Jan. 7, 2021 when the temperature fell to around zero degrees Fahrenheit.
What he witnessed was a rare formation called "frost flowers." Frost flowers occur on the top of icy bodies of water and are not to be confused with their namesakes that form on the ground.
In 2009, Arctic researchers studied frost flowers on sea ice and were able to reproduce them in the lab. Frost flowers form with similar conditions to hoar frost, except a 15-20 degrees Celcius temperature difference between the water and the air is required.
While driving on I-70 in Colorado late in the day on Jan. 3, 2021, Jessica Guaglianone spied something incredible in the sky, so she pulled over to snap some pictures with her iPhone. The next day, she posted the photos to her local meteorologist's Facebook group. It's a rare phenomenon called "cloud iridescence," and these are some of the best photos AccuWeather's editorial team has ever seen that show the event.
Guaglianone said of the experience: "I was lucky to capture this phenomenon. Such a unique sight to see! When the sun dipped below the peak it removed all the glare and the colors really popped. As soon as the sun came up above the peak again the colors were gone."
Iridescence occurs when light diffracts through a thin cloud with uniformly-sized water droplets.
Atmospheric Optics says "the effect is called cloud iridescence or irisation, terms derived from Iris the Greek personification of the rainbow. The usually delicate colors can be in almost random patches or bands at cloud edges. The bands and colors change or come and go as the cloud evolves." Because iridescence typically occurs in the sky near where the sun appears, the website recommends viewing safety, hiding the sun behind a building or mountain so that you don't look directly at it while viewing the iridescence.
The Cascades are known for their scenic views, but this photo of a ray of sunlight shooting over the top of the Pacific Northwest range is unusually spectacular. It was captured in late September by Dustin Guy, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service's office in Seattle. The orange-golden ray of sunlight shoots over a dip between peaks of the mountain range, adding color to what had been a drab-looking day with steady cloud cover.
The solitary ray of light penetrates the grey skies, putting on. a display of yellow, orange and pink light for those lucky enough to witness it. The Cascade Range extends from British Columbia all the way down to Northern California and include famous mountains like Mount Saint Helens, Mount Hood, and Mount Shasta. The Cascades’ highest peak, the volcanic Mount Rainer, is in Washington state, which is where this photo was taken. Winter is in full swing upon the elevated peaks Cascades, with more snowfall in the forecast over the coming weeks at Mt. Rainer National Park.
The Copernicus Sentinel2 satellite captured a breathtaking view of Siciliy's Mt. Etna on Dec. 8, 2021 -- and a little something else. Pictured to the right of the volcano were a lenticular wave cloud and the shadow it had cast on the ground below. Lenticular wave clouds form when air moves up over an object, which can be a mountain like Etna, or even an atmospheric wave.
Rather than forming as a cloud that moves away, lenticular clouds appear to stay still, while in reality the air is constantly moving through them, becoming high enough to condense into moisture droplets, then moving downstream where it becomes dry and the cloud disappears. Because they don't move and can be saucer-shaped, lenticulars are often said to look a lot like UFOs. The otherwise clear weather over Sicily that day made for a most picturesque scene as that lone cloud and its shadow complemented the snow-covered volcano. Scroll down to see some other perspectives of lenticular clouds that have previously been featured in Weather Permitting.
Sam Lillo knew some wild weather was on the way, so he hit the road early in the morning on his way back home to Boulder, Colorado. "Once I got on the highway, I definitely was glancing to the west, figuring there might be an interesting sky ahead of the storm," he told AccuWeather. Lillo, a 30-year-old postdoctoral meteorologist working for CIRES and NOAA, is no stranger to understanding wild weather. And what ended up materializing in the sky above him was interesting, to say the least. "I wasn't disappointed," he admitted. Lillo grabbed his iPhone 11 Pro and managed to capture some amazing photos of the approaching weather.
What he was witnessing was the early stage of a destructive outbreak of extreme weather that blitzed clear across the middle of the U.S., causing all manner of damage. The images he captured showed a heavy rain and snow squall moving through the Boulder area. In one shot, it looks like a giant dust cloud is chasing down a rainbow. In another, the cloud has all but swallowed the rainbow. Lillo's photos hearken back to the Dust Bowl days, the bleak era back in the 1930s when drought gripped the middle of the country and dust storms would engulf small towns. In terms of how the spectacle outside Boulder compares to other weather Lillo has witnessed, "The scenery itself ranks pretty high up there," he said, and added, "The gold for craziest sequence of weather I've experienced here still goes to Labor Day weekend last year," when, he recalled, the weather went "from upper 90s and wildfire ash falling from the sky to 30 and snow in two days."
Dr. Sue Ohrablo of Jacksonville Beach, Florida, took this striking picture on June 23, 2020. Depicted in this image is what meteorologists and storm chasers call a “rain shaft,” something that can shift volatile Florida weather from sunshine to a deluge in a matter of seconds. Each year, Florida’s tropical beauty attracts millions of tourists and transplants. Palm trees and majestic Live Oak trees make Florida’s landscape diverse, but what keeps the landscape lush is the frequent -- and unique -- summer storms.
Ohrablo explained to AccuWeather: “When I lived in South Florida, I worked with someone who had just moved down from Buffalo, New York. After she heard me exclaim, ‘Wow, the rain’s coming …’ several times throughout our lunch one day, she asked me why I was so afraid of rain. I told her ‘Just watch. The rain is not what you are used to.’ By the end of lunch, we ended up waiting an extra hour for the rain to subside and, when we ventured out to our car, we saw another vehicle floating by our parking spot. She then understood my healthy respect and fear of Florida weather.”
The doctor is not new to weather extremes. “I learned to time snowstorms by watching the walls of lake-effect snow when I lived in Syracuse, New York. I’ve witnessed the awesome sight of dust devils and dust storms with wind so powerful it punched holes in concrete walls in Phoenix, Arizona," she said. "For the last 20 years, I’ve learned to read our Florida skies, and have come to appreciate the vast beauty and contradictions that summer weather brings.”
Thomas Pesquet, a French astronaut for the European Space Agency, witnessed the northern lights from a vantage point that most of us never will – high above the Earth on the International Space Station. He snapped two amazing photos and shared them on his Flickr account.
"Nature decided to offer us a final bouquet for the start: the most intense aurora borealis of the whole mission," he said on Twitter. "We flew through it, our noses glued to the windows over North America and Canada. Amazing spikes, higher than our orbit, and we flew right above the center of the ring, with rapid waves and pulses all over."
It wasn't the first time Pesquet had captured the Northern Lights on the ISS -- in November 2017, he recorded a timelapse video showing what the aurora looks like from a distance.
The first record of the Northern Lights is thought to be a 30,000-year-old painting in a cave in France. Much more recently, the Vikings believed the aurora was light reflecting off the armor of supernatural maidens in the afterlife.
This is not the first time photos of the aurora have been featured in Weather Permitting. Scroll down to see amazing photos of the aurora doing an impression of a hurricane over Alaska.
High school Earth Science teacher Sarah Tabor saw a bizarre cloud formation on November 15, 2021, stopped to take pictures of it, and then queried the collective consciousness of Twitter to identify it. Meteorologists worldwide responded: She had captured a rare atmospheric phenomenon known as a "horseshoe vortex cloud."
This oddity forms from a rising air current that takes on a twisting motion when encountering wind shear as it moves up in the atmosphere. With precise moisture and temperature conditions, a cloud can form around these otherwise-invisible vortexes. Because the conditions must be very precise for the cloud to form and survive in a turbulent atmosphere, it is often fleeting. The Cloud Appreciation Society only has 2 photos of horseshoe vortex clouds, out of more than 2,000 submitted to their website.
A thunderstorm during sunset is something to behold. On July 21, 2021, Michael Quinn snapped a photo that was even more amazing: A thunderstorm with a sunset over the Grand Canyon National Park.
Much of Arizona, including the Grand Canyon, was under a severe to extreme drought this year, though an overactive monsoon season helped tame the dry conditions, bringing more rain -- and thunderstorms -- than typically occur during the summer.
The park is home to the immense Grand Canyon itself, over a mile deep and 18 miles wide at one point. The canyon doesn't appear to be getting any wider, the National Park Service says, but it is getting deeper as the Colorado River continues to carve into the ground.
The canyon creates its own weather, which can vary drastically. Temperatures have been recorded between 22 degrees below zero F and 120 degrees F over the years. Snowfall also varies from nil to extreme; the North Rim recorded 272.8 inches (almost 23 feet!) of snow in 1978, but the Phantom Ranch area averages less than an inch each season.
The Royal Meteorological Society has announced the 2021 winners of its annual Weather Photographer of the Year competition in association with AccuWeather. Giulio Montini's spectacular photo “Morning Fog,” taken in Airuno, Italy, took the top prize. The photograph led a plethora of entries that celebrated the unquestionable awe and beauty of weather.
Giulio explained that the winning photo wasn’t easy to capture: "This photo can only be taken from one point. There is a small church on top of a hill in the town of Airuno. Under the mist passes the river Adda. In the autumn months, on some days, it is possible to see this show with the first lights of sunrise. After 20 minutes, everything is over. This award repays me for the cold hours endured, waiting for the perfect light for that photo.“
Airuno is a small town in northern Italy, nestled in the hills northeast of Milan on the edge of the Po Valley, an area once considered one of the foggiest places in the world. Fog has decreased significantly in Po Valley in the last 30 years, due to pollution reduction and increasing temperatures due to climate change.
Giulio snapped the winning picture on Oct. 30, 2016. The temperatures at the end of October in Airuno are similar to those of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with highs in the upper 60s Fahrenheit and low temperatures in the mid 50s.
Out of 8,900 photos taken by more than 3,300 photographers from 114 countries, "Morning Fog" was chosen as the overall winner by an esteemed international panel of judges. Yours truly was one of the judges for the 2021 contest and what struck me about this photo was that fog at sunrise can create surreal landscapes with unique colors that can only be captured from above. In this winning photo, we see the sun’s rays illustrating the cotton-candy nature of the fog – which made for quite the capture!
Standing 124 feet high, atop a 2,300-foot-tall mountain, “Christ the Redeemer” took nine years to complete and was built to withstand 124-mph winds. On Oct. 12, 2021, the iconic statue turned 90 years old. The reinforced concrete statue has weathered many storms and all sorts of harsh weather and has suffered only minor damage. High winds and rain continue to erode the stone, and lightning strikes in 2008 and 2014 marred the cultural icon, despite lightning rods that are in place on the head and arms. If you look closely at this photo, you can see the cables that carry the lightning's charge, the rods on the top of the head and the intricate soapstone triangles that cover the rough concrete.
Major restoration on the statue was performed in 1990 and 2010 and then again in 2021, the 90th anniversary of the statue’s completion. Restoration involved cleaning and replacing the mortar and soapstone and filling in cracks. The statue, finished and unveiled in 1931, is the most recently-built structure awarded the "New Seven Wonders of the World" status.
It was a cloudy afternoon on October 3, 2021 when Jared Hoopingarner launched his drone from U.S. Route 221 just below Grandfather Mountain, North Carolina. It wasn't until he reviewed the footage that he realized that the highway seemed to separate the fall color, with flaming orange and red autumn foliage on one side, and trees that were still predominantly green higher up in elevation.
Fall color, or more specifically, the trees that produce it, are often elevation-based. Satellite views of the area confirm the stark difference can also be perceived in early spring. According to a press release from the mountain, "Elevation also contributes to the diversity of plant species and range of [fall] color. Because Grandfather Mountain rises abruptly from the valley floor, different ecosystems exist at 16 different levels."
One of the highest mountains east of the Mississippi, standing at 5,946 feet, Grandfather Mountain is known for its harsh weather. Winds over 200 mph have been recorded there, but have not been verified as meteorological records due to the type and location of the instruments. As much as 10 feet of snow can fall on the mountain's peak during winter, and temperatures have plunged as low as -35 degrees F.
Some of the rock formations that grace the majestic mountain are estimated to date back to 1.2 billion years ago. It was named after the profile of one rock formation in particular, which locals said resembles an old man.
Each September, the "Harvest Moon" tantalizes sky gazers. This year, it rose less than 48 hours before the start of fall. Andrew Tavani, AccuWeather executive editor snapped this picture from the boardwalk in Ocean City, New Jersey. As the full moon brightened the blue sky and gray clouds to almost daylight conditions, sea oats in the moonlight looked like wheat ready to be harvested. If you look closely above and to the right of the moon, you'll also see the solar system's largest planet, Jupiter. Far out to sea at the time was post-tropical storm Odette, which had been stirring up rough surf all day along the Ocean City beaches.
The nickname for the September full moon dates back to the time before electricity when farmers harvested their annual crop and light from the moon helped them work well after sunset. The cooler conditions at night could also be a bit more comfortable than working in the heat of the day, especially during late-summer warm spells.
In addition to being called the Harvest Moon, September’s full moon is also known as the Corn Moon, the Autumn Moon, the Falling Leaves Moon and the Yellow Leaf Moon.
Wednesday marks the official start of fall in the Northern Hemisphere. With the change in seasons comes a change in the amount of daylight left for people to enjoy this time of year. From the coasts of New England to the Great Lakes and the Rocky Mountains, daylight is quickly dwindling with the sun setting as early as 6:40 in Portland, Maine, and 6:58 in Denver. Still, that hasn't prevented some photographers with The Associated Press from capturing several radiant sunsets throughout the final days of summer across the United States. From pink skies in Milwaukee to an orange haze over the smoky Rockies to a golden evening on the water in Maine, there was plenty of color in the late summer skies across the country
Summer of 2021 was notable in many regards, but perhaps nothing stood out more than the number of heat records that were set. A historic heat wave baked the Pacific Northwest in June, setting all-time highs in Portland, Oregon, Seattle and in Lytton, British Columbia. In fact, the 121 F degree reading in Lytton was the highest temperature ever recorded in Canada.
Death Valley California, on more than one occasion, came within striking distance of its own world record air temperature of 134 F from 1913. In mid-July, a temperature of 130 F was recorded there as a heat wave roasted the southwestern U.S. Across the globe, a dangerous heat wave baked the Mediterranean region of Europe in mid-August. On Aug. 11, a temperature of 119.8 F in Sicily, Italy, set a new all-time record in Europe -- pending verification by the World Meteorological Organization. In addition, no month on record was ever as hot as July 2021.
Nature imitates nature in this photo, fooling one's mind into visualizing some kind of plant, microscopic bacteria, or alien landscape at first glance. But what is it?
This photo was a finalist for the Royal Meteorological Society’s Weather Photographer of the Year contest, in partnership with AccuWeather. The judges have made their decisions on the winners, but the 2021 contest's public voting period ends September 23, so get your votes in soon.
Evgeny Borisov took this self-portrait over a lake using a quadcopter in Altai, Russia. The photo tells the story of winter overtaking summer. After the lake froze for the first time in the autumn, Borisov waited for the first light snow, which painted the icy portions of the lake white, but let the green of the lake beneath shine through in the unfrozen areas.
Have you ever wondered why a lake freezes from the top down? The maximum density of water occurs at 4 degrees Celsius. Above that temperature, the surface water cools, becomes more dense and sinks, replaced by warmer water from below. Once the majority of the lake is 4 degrees, further cooling on the surface forms a less dense layer of cold water at the top, stopping the circulation. Cooling then becomes more concentrated at the top as the surface reached freezing, 0 degrees Celsius.
For decades, pilots had reported large flashes of light extending high above thunderstorms, but their reports were largely discounted by the scientific community until the late 1980s when the existence of a new atmospheric phenomenon was confirmed by instruments flying aboard Space Shuttle Discovery.
On June 9th, 2021, macro snowflake photographer and pizza expert Nathan Myhrvold was on the hunt to photograph this rare atmospheric disturbance near Lake DeSmet in Wyoming, when he snapped an amazing picture.
"Sprites" are large-scale electrical discharges that occur far above an active thunderstorm, triggered by powerful lightning strikes below. These elusive phenomena are rarely photographed, as they only last a few milliseconds, above the troposphere where weather occurs, in the mesosphere. Fleeting and barely detectable by the human eye, red sprites can reach up to 30 miles high and usually form clusters that resemble jellyfish or carrots.
To create this photo, Myhrvold used an extremely fast telephoto lens, aimed blindly at a spot in the sky where he hoped a sprite might occur, then took a series of images. The images were stacked to reduce background noise, and this dramatic picture of luminous reddish-orange flashes dancing in the night sky was the end result.
His other photographic passion is snapping extremely high resolution photos of snowflakes. After 18 months of painstaking work, Myhrvold created a one-of-a-kind camera used just for capturing close-up photos of winter's tiny geometric beauties. His unwavering perseverance resulted in the highest-resolution snowflake images on record.
This photo was one of 21 finalists for the Royal Meteorological Society’s Weather Photographer of the Year contest, in partnership with AccuWeather. The 2021 contest's public voting period ends September 23, so get your votes in soon. Visit here to vote.
At a glance, it may not look like this image is much of a weather pic, but this was a classic case of the weather playing a supporting role and permitting a skilled photographer the fleeting chance to capture a great photo. It took months of planning, said Christian Hartmann, the chief photographer in France for Reuters who shot it, along with some quick-thinking improvisation.
Hartmann, 44, let AccuWeather in on the secrets to nailing this cool pic: He used SunSurveyor, an app that allows users to visualize where the sun and moon will appear in the sky at various times in the future. Next, Hartmann said, a perfect location was necessary. "I noticed a possible view line from the forest of Saint-Germain-en-Laye," which is about 15 miles outside of Paris. Two days before the rise of the supermoon, Hartmann visited the location for a veritable dress rehearsal. Lights, camera ... almost supermoon! The nearly full supermoon he shot looked great. All he needed next was for the weather to play its part as a supporting character on the big night.
"I had just to pray for a windy (but not too windy) blue sky day," Hartmann said. "Without wind, there will be sort of [a] haze on the horizon and no chance to get the real moonrise. The moon would appear too late over the haze. With too much wind there is no chance to stabilize" a 600-millimeter lens mounted on a tripod. Sure enough, at 9:46 p.m. "the moon was here, right on the spot, as expected just behind the Eiffel tower."
But what about the clever spotlight effect on the moon? Like all great performers, Hartmann was able to pull off some quick improvising. "I noticed then that an appropriate shutter speed could capture the luminous beam from the rotating beacon on top giving the feeling that the moon is lighted by the landmark," he recalled. He fiddled with the camera's settings before finding the right shutter speed. But time was running out as the moon would soon be moving too high in the sky to create the effect. He concentrated. "One shot, no second chance," he said. And then ... "Sometimes things work like expected!"
For the past six years, a satellite called DSCOVR has been capturing stunning images of the Earth from nearly 1 million miles away, but early in its mission, it revealed a side of the planet’s cosmic partner that goes unseen even by the largest telescopes.
The Earth-facing camera on DSCOVR “maintains a constant view of the fully illuminated Earth as it rotates, providing daily scientific observations,” NASA has said.
On July 16, 2015, DSCOVR spotted Hurricane Delores churning over the eastern Pacific Ocean shortly before it ushered flooding rainfall into Southern California. In the very same photo the satellite captured of Dolores, an otherworldly object blocked part of its view of the Earth, nearly eclipsing the hurricane below.
On that day, DSCOVR shed some light on the "dark side" of the moon as it passed directly between the satellite and the Earth.
The images relayed back to Earth have enough detail to pick out features of the moon’s surface that are never visible from Earth. This includes the 44-mile-wide Jackson Crater and the "Sea of Moscow," which is one of the very few areas on the far side of the moon that was formed by an ancient volcanic eruption.
One of the best-selling albums of all time, Pink Floyd's 1973 album 'The Dark Side of the Moon' was renamed 'Eclipse' temporarily, due to a conflict with another album's name. The album's cover features a prism breaking light down into 6 colors -- omitting violet, which you would see in a real prism or rainbow. The prism theme sans violet motif was reimagined in a new design for Pink Floyd's 2021's 'The Pink Floyd Exhibition.'
A double rainbow was captured by Penn State Football in State College, Pa., on June 14, 2021.
The "secondary bow" above the first reverses the colors of the primary rainbow, as the sun's rays are reflected twice. If it looks like there's a shadow under the main rainbow, you're right -- those are additional rainbows known as "supernumerary bows" that typically show up as pink, purple, or green fringes.
This rainbow is particularly low in the sky, photographed at 5:30 PM, more than three hours before sunset in Central Pennsylvania during mid-June. Rainbows can't be seen for several hours on either side of solar noon, so you'll never see one around lunchtime. Technically, they may still be there but are below the horizon. The biggest, highest rainbows are captured just after sunrise and just before sunset.
Pictured under the rainbow are legendary Mount Nittany and the area known as "Happy Valley." The legend of the Native American maiden Nita-nee says that her burial ground expanded overnight from a modest mound to what is today known as Mount Nittany, forever mitigating persistent crop damage from a cold, cruel north wind. Penn State's official website says this legend has "no basis in fact" but any student attending Penn State today knows that cold north wind is a cruel foe, as they walk to class on campus -- north of Mount Nittany's protection.
It looks like it could be a Microsoft Windows desktop wallpaper image or a place described in a J.R.R. Tolkien book -- but this alluring yet peaceful view is no virtual world or literary fantasy. It's pure reality and was captured on a misty morning in Vietnam.
Vu Trung Huan, the photographer who captured this ethereal image, explained what makes the setting so unique. "Long Coc tea hill in Tan Son has mysterious and strange features when the sun is not yet up. Hidden in the morning mist, the green color of tea leaves still stands out. Early in the morning, holding a cup of tea, taking a breath of fresh air, watching the gentle green stretches of green tea hills. It is true that nothing is equal!" He went on to say that for early risers who like to catch the sunrise, this is a place where one can "most clearly feel the transition between night and day." What was also apparent in the photo, he said, was that "When the sun is up, everything is tinged with sunlight and on the tea buds there is still glittering morning dew, a pure beauty that makes you just want to embrace everything."
Tea trees, featuring leaves that stay dark green all year round, are primed for growing and harvesting in this particular area of Vietnam, which enjoys favorable weather and has phenomenal soil. The summers are exceedingly wet and hot with temperatures above 90 F on average, while the winters are dryer and cooler, with daytime temperature readings maxing out closer to 60 F.
This photo won 2nd Place in the Royal Meteorological Society’s Weather Photographer of the Year 2020 contest. The 2021 contest entry period (now with a mobile phone category) ends June 29, 2021, so get your photos submitted soon. Visit here for more info and to enter.
Neil and Danae Serfas were witnessing a truly remarkable sight: a long, wispy rope tornado dancing across the Canadian Prairie. Neil and Danae had watched a storm form over their canola fields and decided they had better check for hail damage. But as they drew closer, they realized that what they were witnessing was not your typical summer storm – it was rotating. “We saw the tornado on the ground start to grow in size,” Serfas told AccuWeather. “We watched it for almost 15 minutes from start to finish.” Rope tornadoes, which are the most common type, can put on dazzling shows as they dissipate. “I had always wanted to see a tornado, and it was an incredible experience that I’ll never forget!” Serfas said. They even caught some awesome video of it.
Tornadoes are not all that uncommon in Canada; Canada sees the second most tornadoes in the world, only behind the United States. The Canadian tornado season ramps up over the summer as the jet stream moves north. “The jet stream typically reaches its farthest point north during July and August,” AccuWeather meteorologist Brett Anderson explained. “This also allows very warm and humid air to reach farther north into Canada, which is critical for the needed instability and energy to grow and feed severe thunderstorms and possibly tornadoes.”
Christopher Balladarez, a professional photographer from California, was out on an uneventful photo shoot at sunset May 25, 2021. He had almost packed up his gear when the sky exploded in color. Balladarez was witnessing a sunset paint bright orange hues onto lenticular clouds, also called “wave clouds.”
Lenticular clouds are different from other clouds because they don’t form and move along, but rather sit in one place, continually re-formed as air moves through them. They are the result of air rising to its condensation point over and downstream of an object, typically a mountain, although they can also result from waves generated in the atmosphere itself. The complex and unpredictable air currents over the Sierra Nevada mountains were given their own name, the Sierra Wave, when discovered in 1950 and can help glider pilots sail higher and longer in the skies.
Balladarez explained to AccuWeather how an uneventful evening abruptly turned into the opportunity to shoot one of his favorite photos.
“This night was one of the most spectacular sunsets I have ever witnessed. Hanging around the Sierra Nevadas long enough, you're bound to see these insane lenticular clouds in the sky. As we were getting our stuff ready to head back home because the sky wasn't really looking like it was going to burn, last second the entire sky lit up like nothing I have ever seen. As a travel photographer, I absolutely love putting subjects in my landscape images to express the scale of the location. I had my buddy run down as far as he could to stand on those rocks for me as I compressed the layers of the image with a telephoto lens to make the background only the lenticulars burning. I'll never forget this day. Hands down one of my favorite images I've ever shot."
AccuWeather Meteorologist and storm chaser Tony Laubach took this picture on the evening of June 11, 2021, in Nisland, South Dakota. His aim was to photograph lightning that night, but he assumed he'd have plenty of time before the rain and hail derailed his plans. He managed to snap only three photos before "the sky unloaded" a barrage of rain and hail that pounded him and his chase vehicle.
Lightning can travel far away from a storm, so if you're attempting lightning photography it's crucial to remain in the car, even if you leave your camera outside.
The next time a clash of thunder or a flash of lightning startles you, be thankful you weren’t in Brazil on Oct. 31, 2018. That Halloween night, the record for the longest-traveling lightning strike was broken when a bolt stretched 440 miles across the southern region of the country. Scientists at the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) confirmed the record in a recent American Geophysical Union journal publication.
Ever since he was a little kid, Christian Hernandez has had a fascination with weather. “Mom used to get mad at me because I would stare out the window the entire time it was storming outside,” he told AccuWeather. That weather intrigue has never left Hernandez, now 32, and last June, just a couple of days into summer, it helped him capture an extraordinary photo of a shelf cloud that was looming over Clovis, New Mexico, which is east of Albuquerque, right near the border with Texas. “That evening I looked north of town and noticed a beautiful shelf cloud approaching,” Hernandez recalled. So he grabbed his keys and he and his wife, Stormi, hopped in their Dodge Ram pickup truck “and headed towards an open field in my neighborhood to get a clear shot.”
Once the couple arrived at the spot, Hernandez said he began to appreciate just how sweeping the shelf cloud was. “Being there in person was epic, like a scene out of Independence Day,” he said, referring to a famous moment in the 1996 Will Smith sci-fi thriller. He said the couple “sat in the back of my truck and admired the view,” though he noted that Stormi was “definitely freaked out by it.” Then, he pointed his iPhone 11 at the sky, snapped a few photos and recorded some video to memorialize the spectacle as the dark layered cloud began to blot out the setting sun. Stormi said the shelf cloud “looked like an alien invasion,” Hernandez remembered. Also, that moment was something of a culmination of his lifelong interest in sensational weather. There he was, gazing upward at a jaw-dropping weather creation that was the result of a stormy sky, his wife Stormi by his side. “I did think back to when I was a kid,” he said, “especially since the cloud formation was out of this world.”
Alex Wides captured this amazing 360-degree panorama, in which the moon illuminates the Tre Cime di Lavaredo (Three Peaks of Lavaredo) in Italy. Fog surrounds a large wooden cross and the photographer's tent on top of Mount Paterno, which peaks at an elevation of 9,000 feet. Above the cross, the Big Dipper (Ursa Major) is visible. A magnified shadow of the photographer and the cross is also cast onto the fog below, an optical phenomenon called a "Brocken Spectre," so named for the peak in Germany where it is frequently sighted.
Wides spent more than a month seeking the best weather for photographing the mountainside during late summer, looking for the clearest conditions under the influence of high-pressure weather systems. The hike up Mount Paterno took four hours, and he was stuck in the fog most of the time. After eating dinner and waiting for hours, the curtain of fog lifted, and the moon illuminated this magical scene. The cross on Mount Paterno is a memorial to Sepp Innerkofler, an Austrian mountaineer who died in 1915 defending the mountain against Italian forces during World War I.
The photo was shortlisted in the Royal Meteorological Society’s Weather Photographer of the Year 2020 contest. This year’s contest entry period ends June 29, 2021, so get your photos submitted soon, and don’t forget that this year also features a Young Photographer winner, as well as a Mobile Phone category. Visit here for more info and to enter.
Pools of lava boiling out of the ground are often affiliated with volcanoes around the world, but one volcano nestled in the mountains of Oregon is filled with another, human-friendly substance.
More than 7,000 years ago, Mount Mazama in southern Oregon blew its top in a cataclysmic eruption to create what is now known as Crater Lake National Park. The volcano is still considered active to this day, but it has not had an eruption in nearly 5,000 years. Since then, the large crater created by the massive eruption has filled in with water from rain and snowmelt, forming a pristine, crystal blue lake that entices swimmers from around the world. However, swimmers should prepare for a chilly dip as the water in the lake only gets up to 60 degrees F during the hottest part of the summer, the National Park Service said. This may still be a quick, refreshing dip for summer visitors when the air temperature during the afternoon reaches the 70s and 80s F.
Crater Lake National Park is also known for its breathtaking scenery and starry night sky. Established in 1907, the park welcomes more than 700,000 visitors per year.
Photojournalist Karen Ducey was out on assignment for Reuters in mid-May 2021, carrying out the task of capturing images that would illustrate the Seattle real estate scene. Ducey, a New York native who moved to Seattle 30 years ago, has two decades of photojournalism experience under her belt. “I usually shoot breaking news assignments or in-depth environmental or social justice issue projects,” Ducey told AccuWeather. “Weather is critical in every photo I shoot outdoors. It can either make or break the shot.” It’s safe to say that the weather made the above shot, which Ducey captured while she was out on that news feature assignment.
At around nine in the morning, from a vantage point near Marshall Park on Queen Anne Hill, Ducey saw it. “Low clouds over the Puget Sound provided a clean backdrop that separated the Olympic Mountains from the cargo ship and the boat marina and Magnolia neighborhood,” Ducey recalled. “It was kind of a mini mountain range in and of itself.” As the tranquil mid-morning scene played out, Ducey said, the stern of the ship would occasionally disappear into the fog. But, using her trusty Canon R5, which was equipped with a Canon EF 70-200-millimeter lens, she managed to nail a shot in which the entire ship was visible. “I wasn’t the only one snapping pictures,” she added. “Every runner, bicyclist, tourist, baby stroller jogger or dog walker was holding up their cell phone. We’re lucky to live in such a beautiful city on mornings like this.”
Ducey said the difference between covering breaking news and feature items means sometimes having “to actively search for something interesting to tell a story.” What was the story she ended up telling in this case? Perhaps the story was a question that sprang into her mind when she and others were documenting the splendor of Puget Sound that day: “Who wouldn’t want to live there?”
Mindaugas Gasparavičius, a founding member of the Lithuanian storm-chasing team Sky Chasers LT, shot these striking photos of mammatus clouds appearing on the back side of a heavy, convective snow shower in late April. Bulbous in appearance, mammatus clouds can occur underneath many different cloud types, but typically the most impressive are those that occur with thunderstorms, under the back side of the “anvil cloud” after severe weather has cleared. They can lend an eerie feel to the sky after severe weather passes.
Gasparavičius explained the weather setup that permitted these extraordinary images. "The whole week in Lithuania was much colder than it should've been, and so we all spent the whole week chasing fast-moving clouds full of snow pellets,” also known as graupel, he told AccuWeather, adding that he “was storm chasing about 20 miles northeast of Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, near the Belarus border.” Gasparavičius said weather conditions didn't change at all that week, including on Sunday, apart from one main difference that caught his eye above: “I noticed a more angry-looking cloud, with some kind of shelf cloud in front. That cloud was also producing an enormous amount of snow pellets, so I had to wait inside my car until it had passed. Behind that shower were the mammatus clouds, against a bright clear sky, and the sun was about to set. The light, position and time were perfect,” he recalled. “I set up one camera for a time-lapse, and I took some pictures with the second camera, using several different lenses -- 35-millimeter, 50-millimeter and 100-millimeter -- on my full-frame Canon 5DMK4."
Death Valley is known as one of the hottest spots on Earth, holding the official world record for the highest temperature ever observed when the mercury soared to 134 F on July 10, 1913. The scorching heat is not a deterrent for some visitors who travel to the park to stand at Badwater Basin, the lowest (and typically hottest) part of the park that sits at 282 feet below sea level. But on March 6, 2019, photographer Elliot McGucken traveled to the California park for a completely different reason. Instead of experiencing intense heat, McGucken arrived at the park and saw an incredibly rare sight. Heavy rain caused the park to transform into a giant oasis.
“It was breathtaking!” McGucken told AccuWeather during a phone interview. “I was just hoping to see some water down in Badwater Basin. It was in a totally different place than what I was [originally] thinking.” On that day, 0.87 of an inch of rain soaked the arid landscape, or roughly 37% of the park’s annual rainfall in just a few hours. Instead of sinking into the ground, it pooled on the hard desert floor, creating a lake that was approximately 10 miles wide. McGucken estimated that the water was only around 6 inches deep, but in the past, extreme rainfall caused the lake to be deep enough for kayakers to paddle across the park.
More than 11,000 readers voted this photo by Alexey Trofimov to the top of the list in the Royal Meteorological Society's Weather Photographer of the Year contest. The 2021 entry opens April 29, 2021, and includes a new category for amateur photographers to showcase photos snapped on a smartphone. Visit here for more info and to enter.
Located in Siberia, Lake Baikal is the deepest, largest freshwater lake in the world and is almost 400 miles long. Renowned for its turquoise ice formations, Lake Baikal is covered with ice for nearly five months out of the year, with temperatures below zero in the winter. The color of the ice is spectacular, like a wonderful turquoise gemstone. Even though it is otherworldly, this picture transports the viewer to the ice-bound lake. Trofimov said the weather there is crucial for making such a sensational winterscape. "Lake Baikal in Russia is a unique natural site. Its geographical location creates unique weather conditions. Baikal ice is a special magic. For several months, Baikal wears a mantle, interspersed with precious stones."
During mid-April, Surigae rapidly strengthened to super typhoon status over the Philippine Sea. At one point, it was packing 190-mph sustained winds and made a dangerously close approach to the Philippines, but as the storm changed direction, it transitioned to a post-tropical area of low pressure across the North Pacific Ocean -- and then exploded into an even larger storm while passing well to the east of Japan and eastern Russia. A view of the massive storm was captured from thousands of miles above the Earth by the NOAA/CIRRA satellite.
As it moved over the northern Pacific Ocean, the former super typhoon underwent a process called bombogenesis in which a storm’s barometric pressure lowers by at least 24 millibars (mb), or 0.71 inches of mercury, in 24 hours. In Surigae’s case, the barometric pressure fell from an estimated 990 mb (29.24 inches of mercury) early on April 26 to 952 mb (28.11 inches of mercury) during the afternoon of April 27. This was a drop of 38 mb (1.13 inches of mercury), easily surpassing the 24 mb criteria. Although it didn't bring significant impacts to land, the storm produced hurricane-force winds across the northern Pacific, which could have impacted shipping and sent large waves radiating outward for thousands of miles.
In late January 2021, Scott Mackaro was walking his daughters to school in Erie, Colorado, at around 8:30 in the morning and they were awestruck by the scene developing around them. “We saw all of the trees literally sparkling,” Mackaro said. The temperature that morning in Erie, which is just outside of Boulder, was a bone-chilling 5 degrees Fahrenheit, and the dew point was 2.5 degrees F. They were perfect conditions to create a weather phenomenon known as freezing fog. Mackaro, who is AccuWeather’s Vice President of Science, Data and Innovation, whipped out his iPhone X and shot a photo of the surreal scene, which almost resembled a nuclear winter – the sun hanging in the sky, but dulled by the freezing fog that shrouded the area.
Freezing fog is fog that forms when the temperature at the surface is at or below the freezing mark, 32 degrees F. Freezing fog can also create a distinct type of ice known as rime ice. According to the National Weather Service in Spokane, Washington, rime forms as supercooled water droplets freeze on contact, commonly forming needle-like structures, which was precisely what could be seen in Mackaro’s photo. “It was fascinating to see the sun shining through the frozen fog and the frozen rime on the branches was too beautiful not to photograph. I routinely take photos of interesting weather,” he said, “so this was a no-brainer.” However, the rime ice left by the frozen fog is a most delicate creation of nature, as Mackaro and his kids found out. “A quick tap on the tree and everything fell to the ground,” he said.
A senior year of high school usually creates life-long memories, but one during the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic was nothing short of disappointing for some. The class of 2020 missed out on the key celebrations that typically come with the momentous milestone of graduating high school, including prom and walking to receive diplomas. But, for one senior, Cheyann, a normal graduation photoshoot turned into an “unforgettable” memory — one that, with a little help from Mother Nature, ended up going viral on social media.
Christy Turner, a Canada-based photographer, captured stunning photos of a family friend’s daughter, explaining that “I sure timed this photoshoot right!” She noted that the grad was "feeling down" due to missing out on festivities and not getting a chance to wear her beautiful gown, but that the “sky made up for it.” Upon reaching the grad’s family farm, the photographer was unsure if the shoot would go on as planned, since it was "storming violently in true southern Alberta form," Turner told AccuWeather in an interview. But, when the skies opened up and the pouring rain stopped, she knew from her experience as an avid storm chaser that the sky was about to turn into a one-of-a-kind backdrop. Distinct mammatus clouds undulated across the sky just as the sun began to set, illuminating the dramatic clouds in a golden hue.
The clouds that appeared in the surreal backdrop “are usually associated with thunderstorms, but not always,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Randy Adkins explained. “They form when moist air containing cloud droplets descends into a layer of drier air. In effect, it’s the opposite of how clouds form when sufficiently moist air rises and condenses into liquid water droplets.”
The photographer rushed Cheyann into position in front of the beautiful and fleeting scene, and one more factor came into play, clinching the perfect photoshoot as she pointed her camera. A small rainbow appeared just underneath the billowing clouds. The grad took advantage of the scenery and posed with the prism of colors, while she sat atop a white horse in her gown.
The sun was about to set on a frigid winter day in Crosby, North Dakota, when Jerry Walter spotted a pair of objects in the sky that almost looked like two suns, one on each side of the actual sun. This photograph, taken in 2006, was not edited but, rather, features a display of an optical illusion known as sun dogs. “Both are forms of ice halos, caused when ice crystals in the atmosphere reflect off of sunlight,” AccuWeather Meteorologist and Senior Weather Editor Jesse Ferrell said.
Similar to the way that water droplets can reflect light to create a rainbow, a thin layer of ice crystals high in the atmosphere can reflect light to create a splotch of light on one or both sides of the sun. In some instances when conditions are just right, a complete circle of light can appear around the sun, known as a 22-degree halo. These optical illusions are most commonly seen just before sunset. Ferrell said that the colors of a rainbow can be seen in both sun dogs and halos, although the colors are not typically as vibrant as those seen in a classic rainbow. Sun dogs are not particularly rare and can be seen when there is a thin layer of high cirrus clouds in the sky. However, onlookers should remember to never actually look directly at the sun itself as it can lead to serious eye damage.