Recent news of extreme weather has given tornadoes attention well outside of tornado alley. But this is not a tornado.
Photographer Mike Olbinski captured time-lapsed footage of a supercell storm near Booker, Texas.
Since 2010, Olbinski wrote he had been coming from Arizona to the Central Plains trying to find such a storm. It wasn’t until his fourth attempt that he was successful.
“We don’t get structure like this,” Olbinski described of the storm on Vimeo. “Clouds that rotate and look like alien spacecraft hanging over the Earth.”
Here’s how he describes his footage and the storm, which his weather friend Andy Hoeland helped him track:
We chased this storm from the wrong side (north) and it took us going through hail and torrential rains to burst through on the south side. And when we did…this monster cloud was hanging over Texas and rotating like something out of Close Encounters.
The timelapse was shot on a Canon 5D Mark II with a Rokinon 14mm 2.8 lens. It’s broken up into four parts. The first section ends because it started pouring on us. We should have been further south when we started filming but you never know how long these things will last, so I started the timelapse as soon as I could.
One thing to note early on in the first part is the way the rain is coming down on the right and actually being sucked back into the rotation. Amazing.
A few miles south is where part two picks up. And I didn’t realize how fast it was moving south, so part three is just me panning the camera to the left. During that third part you can see dust along the cornfield being pulled into the storm as well…part of the strong inflow.
The final part is when the storm had started dying out and we shot lightning as it passed over us.
Between the third and fourth portions we drove through Booker, Texas where tornado sirens were going off…it was creepy as all heck. And intense.
Check out the slightly less than two-minutes of footage for yourself:
KOMO News reported the storm occurring on June 3.
According to NOAA, a supercell is a storm, often associated with a thunderstorm, that has updrafts rotating about a vertical axis, called a mesocyclone.
“Analogous to cancer cells in a living organism, supercells differ from ordinary thunderstorms in that the rotation of their updraft enables them to overcome the self-limiting mechanisms that bring demise to regular storms. Once formed, a supercell may perpetuate itself for an appreciable length of time, even upon encountering an environment that is hostile to the development of new storms,” NOAA’s website stated.