The word “storm” tends to have a negative connotation to it. We think rain, heavy winds, destruction, and natural disasters. However, once you can look past the chaos that they can bring, the sheer power, mystery, and beauty of storms can be understood as beautiful. When captured at the perfect moment, storms can be downright breathtaking forces of nature and these pictures are a testimony to that. Here’s a list we compiled of some incredible storms that make you feel powerless just looking at them. You won’t believe the picture of the supercell thunderstorm taken in Nebraska!
Photo: Marco Fulle
At a glance, this photograph seems like it was taken out of a science-fiction apocalyptic film. Most people will go their entire lives without seeing anything close to this, yet we were lucky enough that Marco Fulle snapped this picture. The contrast between the erupting volcano combined with the very clear streaks of lighting demonstrates the pure power of nature and although very dangerous, is remarkably beautiful. This volcanic lightning is known as a “dirty thunderstorm”, which occurs when volcanic ash, ice particles, and rocks collide within a volcanic plume creating friction and then lightning. This particular picture was captured during the eruption of the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull in 2010.
Photo: Mike Oblinski
This is another photograph of an absolutely colossal and gorgeous supercell storm. It was taken outside of Booker, Texas back in 2013 by storm chaser Mike Oblinski. If you didn’t know any better, you could easily mistake this storm for the opening of a black hole or wormhole straight out of the movie Interstellar. Being even this far away in order to take this photograph must have been super intense considering the noise of the thunder and the force of the wind coming from such a gigantic storm. The one streak of lightening helps to remind you that this is a storm and not some cataclysmic event, although seeing it up close you might think it was.
The Illuminated Canyon
Photo: Rolf Maeder
As if the Grand Canyon wasn’t already breathtaking enough, Rolf Maeder managed to capture a picture of a lightning storm that makes it look absolutely otherworldly. From this image, you can see just how truly bright those flashes of lighting are allowing you to see clear down the canyon. It’s hard to tell if this was taken during the night or the day because the light coming from the lightning is intense that it illuminating the entire canyon and the sky above. This must have been quite the sight to see in person, we just hope that Rolf wasn’t hanging too far off the edge to capture this blinding moment.
Another Windy Day In Kansas
Photo: Carsten Peter
Though we have already witnessed the beginnings of supercells that turn into tornados, here we have a tornado that has come into form and made contact with the earth. Most tornados in the United States form in a region known as “Tornado Ally”, which includes areas such as Nebraska, Kansas, Northern Texas, eastern Colorado, and eastern South Dakota. Most tornados reach speeds of up to 110 miles per hour, can be 2.5 miles wide, and travel several miles until finally dissipating. Storm chasers take a lot of risks tracking these forces of nature in order to take the perfect picture of their size and strength.
Tsunami Of Clouds
Photo: The Weather Channel
Although this supercell was captured in McCook, Nebraska, it looks like it could have easily been taken over the Pacific Ocean. The layer of clouds at the base of the storm seems so calm and vast that it is reminiscent of the wide open ocean. The cloud formation could also be misunderstood as a gigantic wave of biblical proportions that reaches so high that it could touch the clouds above it. It appears that without the bolts of lightning behind the storm, everything would be completely dark. Imagine being in darkness and then seeing that storm only when there was a flash of lightning. Eerie.
Photo: Mike Hollingshead
This is a picture of a supercell storm that was taken in York, Nebraska by storm chaser Mike Hollingshead. A supercell storm is a thunderstorm that has a deep and persistent rotating updraft. They are sometimes referred to as a “rotating storm”. Supercells are usually isolated from other thunderstorms and can dominate the local weather from over 20 miles away. With this picture, we can clearly see what is meant by the upward draft and rotating nature of the storm. However, aside from this supercell’s shape, one of the most striking characteristics of this photograph are the two colors of blue and purple that are clearly divided down the middle of the storm. It looks like more an image created with CGI than an act of nature. The next supercell looks more beautiful than scary.
A Haboob Descends Upon Pheonix
Photo: Steve Flowers
This image was taken while aboard an airplane flying over Phoenix, Arizona. Although not necessarily a storm composed of lightning and rain, it is a dust storm that can be equally as terrifying and majestic. This type of dust storm is known as a “haboob”, which is an intense dust storm that is carried on an atmospheric gravity current or weather front. Although the term is Arabic, these storms occur regularly in arid regions around the world. Seeing this force of nature from above must be a lot more comfortable in an airplane rather than being on the ground watching this dust storm slowly approaching.
Photo: Ervin Boer
This picture features the city of Timisoara, Romania and it appears the city is about to receive the rainstorm of a lifetime. By examining the right corner of the image, it looks as though this city was enjoying a relatively pleasant and bright day, that was until this wall of dark and ominous storm clouds appeared on the horizon. The only thing that would make this storm look any more threatening would be flashes of lightning or the sound of thunder. The shape and the way that the storm seems to be endless is reminiscent of alien invasion films where the foreign spacecraft hover above entire cities, blocking the light from the sun. Hopefully, the citizens of Timisoara brought their umbrellas with them that day.
Spring Break Is Cancelled This Year
Photo: Jeff Smallwood
This photo was taken in what is usually thought of as the sunny, warm, and party paradise of Daytona Beach, Florida. if you weren’t aware, in the 1980’s and ’90s, Daytona Beach was the Mecca for college students looking to cut loose and get into some trouble during their spring break. Clearly, this image tells a different story. What makes this photo particularly impactful is that if you look closely, you can see people and even the pier which gives a sense as to how gigantic this oncoming storm really was. While some surfers may be eager to grab their boards and test their skills on some stormy waves, others may be packing their cars and heading inland.
Darkness Falls Over The Big Apple
Photo: Adnam Islam
Although the sheer size of this storm is impressive, it’s the camera angle and lens effects that really make this picture stand out. Taken in New York, New York, the way the clouds seem almost orb-like makes it appear as though it may completely engulf the city into the storm itself. How the storm is lit up from the interior can make you only imagine what is going on inside of it all. Although most would assume it to be lightning, if you saw this in a sci-fi film, that might not be your first assumption.
Light At The End Of The Tunnel
Photo: Phil Snyder
Taking a break from most of the doom and gloom in the previous storms we have seen, this image, taken by Phil Snyder in Diamond Lake, Washington perfectly demonstrates the beauty that can be observed once a storm has passed. Although giant supercells are epic in proportion and beautiful in their own way, this image evokes the feeling of the calm after a storm. A rainbow in the distance, the fresh smell of rain, it’s a feeling that more people cherish than not. This is one of those images that people set as their desktop background or come back to for a sense of calm and relief which Snyder managed to capture for us all.
Photo: Jim Reed
This is a picture of full-blown supercell thunderstorm taken in the American Midwest. These types of storms are known to be relatively common during the springtime in this region and are some of the most dangerous since they have the ability to produce tornadoes. The storm’s almost creamy swirls almost look like the world’s most powerful and dangerous ice cream cone, and if it manages to touch down to earth, it could create a tornado destroying everything in its path. The lone lightning bolt and light from the sunset in the middle of the background make it hard to fathom just how dangerous this storm is. Keep going to see what rainfall looks like from an airplane!
Photo: Nikos Koutoulas
Taken near Kalohori, Greece, this picture makes you question the saying that lightning never strikes twice. Although all of those lightning bolts are most likely miles away from each other, the majority of us would rather admire them from a distance. Even though this image was taken in Greece, it looks like it could have been taken in the African plains with its vast open space and shrub-like trees in the distance. The multicolored lightning and the array of colors in the background helps to make this storm look less frightening from most, but when it comes from storms, looks can be deceiving.
The Eye Of The Storm
Photo: Trey Ratcliff
In Palm Beach, Florida, Trey Ratcliff has managed to capture what appears to be the eye of the storm situated over the Atlantic Ocean. The eye of the storm is defined as a region of calm weather that typically tends to be located in the middle of a tropical storm. This gives viewers the ability to see the sky that the storm is covering, and a respite from the storm’s harsh weather conditions. Where we can see darkness and rain on all sides, this one particular space remains unaffected and the clear blue skies shine through. Although beautiful on land, during a large hurricane on the water, the eye can create waves as tall as 130 feet and is noted by sailors as the most threatening part of a large storm.
Photo: David Kingham
Although this photograph could be misunderstood as a storm above an ocean with slow, rolling waves, it was actually taken in the plains of South Dakota. What could arguably be waves are small hills, and what could be mistaken for a ship is a grouping of trees and what appears to be a silo. The black and white effect on the image really accentuates the darkness in the clouds above, which are full of moisture, and ready release a downpour at any moment. If you look closely, you can see that the rains have already begun in the back of the image along with some lightning, so it’s only a matter of time until this photographer got wet himself.
Admiring From A Distance
Photo: Dr. Len Radin
There’s nothing quite like admiring a rainstorm as grand as this one from a distance. One reason being that you are able to see the full scale of the entire storm in all of its beauty, and the other because you get to stay nice and dry. Taken off the coast of Bermuda, this picture of a rainstorm over the ocean reminds us of all of the things that still go in in nature even when nobody is there to witness it. Storms such as this don’t just happen for our own viewing pleasure, at times we’re just fortunate enough to capture a glimpse of it.
Photo: Haley Luna
When it’s raining around us, it’s easy to forget that it doesn’t mean that it’s raining everywhere else too. Sometimes, the rain can seem like it goes on forever, when really it’s usually just in specific spots. This aerial shot was taken in Denver, Colorado, and shows the one place where it actually happens to be raining although there seems to be no end of the overcast clouds in sight. From above, it may not seem to be that big of an area, but it could actually be covering quite a bit of ground in the Mile High City. From the airplane, we can see exactly where it stops, but certainly, nobody down below would be able to know where it actually ends.
Photo: Mike Jones
Taken in the Grand Cayman Islands, this explosion of bright purple light looks like some kind of storm you might see in outer space. The power of the lightning behind the dense clouds shows just how high the lightning originates as well as the formation of the clouds, which is more vertical than spread out across the sky. This picture demonstrates the strength of lightning and its ability to illuminate an otherwise completely dark sky, even when hidden behind storm clouds. Without the clouds, the lightning may have very well been too bright to capture on a camera or even blinding to look at.
A Surge Of Power
Photo: Joel Sartore
There is something about lightening that is both inherently mesmerizing and equally terrifying. The concept of electricity coming from the sky and making contact with the ground capable of killing people, splitting trees, and starting fires are sure to make anyone respect its power. In this photograph, we have what looks like a series of interconnected lightning bolts all striking at once while looking dangerously close to those houses. Although it is hard not to admire their bright light, color, and power, those lightning bolts look a little too close for comfort. We like to appreciate looking in awe at these bolts of electricity from the safety of our screens.
The Perfect Composition
Photo: Joel Sartore
From the images that we’ve seen so far, and from what most of us have seen in real life, lightning has always seemed to strike down from the sky. Well, in Wyoming’s Red Desert, photographer Joel Sartore managed to capture something amazing. The composition of the entire image couldn’t be better timed with the unusual horizontal bolt of lighting centered almost exactly above the plateau in the center of the foreground. As if that isn’t impressive enough, the clouds in the sky don’t seem thick enough to create lighting, yet the lightning bolt seems to come out of nowhere. The entire image seems almost too perfect and unlikely, yet exemplifies the beauty and mysticism of nature.