9 of the Most Beautiful Weather Photos of the Year

Brad Goddard
Brad Goddard / Brad Goddard

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Weather in Focus contest recognizes the best weather photography of the year, highlighting the best photos from storm chasers and star gazers across the country, including epic snapshots of fog, lightning, ice, and more. 

Judges selected from 2,000 entries of images related to weather events and the scientific instruments used to understand and predict the weather. The winners range from snowy scenes to shots of dramatic tornadoes to calm images of the night sky.

Brad Goddard, a photographer based in Orion, Ill., who specializes in storm photography, swept the professional category, taking home the top three prizes.

Here's the full version of his image above, called "Stars Behind the Storm."

His second place entry is called "A Tornado Churns Up Dust in Sunset Light Near Traer, Iowa."

Goddard's tornado hunting yielded another spectacular image called “A Tornado Crosses the Path, Reinbeck, Iowa."

Honorable mention in the professional category went to the photo “Fog Rolls in From the Ocean on a Hot Summer Day, Belbar, New Jersey,” by Robert Raia of Toms River, N.J. 

“Snow Express” by Conrad Stenftenagel of Saint Anthony, Ind., took first place in the Weather, Water & Climate category. 

“Proton Arc Over Lake Superior” by Ken William of Clio, Mich., got second place in the same category. Auroras are caused by charged particles coming in contact with the gases of the Earth's upper atmosphere. While most of these lights are caused by electrons, some are produced by protons. 

“With a Bang,” which Bob Larson shot near Prescott, Az., was awarded third place.

“Spring Captured: Freezing Rain Attempts to Halt Spring” by Mike Shelby, Elkridge, Md., took second place in the iMoment smart phone image category. 

“Green Bank Telescope in WV” by Mike Zorger of Falls Church, Va., was selected as the best photo of weather or climate science in action. The West Virginia telescope is the world's largest steerable radio telescope. Nearby residents have to forgo electronics so as not to interfere with its signals. 

The images will be showcased at an exhibit at NOAA’s headquarters in Silver Spring, Md., later this summer. 

[h/t: CityLab]