The Weather Photographer of the Year competition just concluded a successful first year. After more than 800 photographs were submitted, the winners were announced at the Society's Amateur Meteorologists' Conference on September 10. With so many stunning entries depicting rare and unusual weather phenomena, it was difficult for the committee to choose just a handful of prizewinners. Fortunately we’ve assembled 22 of the top finalists for your viewing pleasure.
1. Photographer Alan Tough captured these colorful nacreous clouds using an old compact camera.
2. This unusual ice formation was the product of "successive days of cold, strong Northerly winds, snow, frost, and spindrift," according to photographer Allan Macdougall.
3. This photo of freezing fog and hoar frost, snapped by Andrew Bailey at the Herringfleet Mill in Suffolk, England, placed third in the over-16 competition.
4. Photographer Ben Cherry documented this rare upward-reaching lightning bolt, known as a sprite strike, while photographing a storm off the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. His image was awarded this year's top prize in the over-16 category.
5. Second place winner Camelia Czuchnicki captured this striking shot when two storm cells clashed over New Mexico in June 2014.
6. The unique swirling cloud formation observed in this storm is known as a barber’s pole. Czuchnicki spotted it over Broken Bow in southeast Nebraska.
7. The oil super-tanker Guanabara was caught in the crossfire of a lightning storm when Graham Newman snapped this photo off Australia's west coast.
8. In "Hailstorm and Rainbow Over the Seas of Covehithe," an oil tanker on the horizon tries to escape from the cover of a massive storm cloud. The image earned photographer James Bailey first place in the 16 and under competition.
9. This photo was captured on a chilly spring morning as the Sun rose over the Somerset levels in England. As photographer Kevin Pearson writes, "In the distance is Glastonbury Tor which dominates the landscape and can be seen from as far as 25 miles away on a clear day. It always makes for a good backdrop."
10. Mark Boardman’s image shows the moment when a shower of hail blanketed a radio telescope at Jodrell Bank in the UK.
11. This rainbow appeared in front of England’s Derwent Valley in the middle of a light snow, providing Mat Robinson with an excellent photo opportunity.
12. The fluffy formations of mammatus clouds fill the frame of Mat Robinson’s photograph "Mamazing."
13. In this photo, a sun halo illuminates the sky over the Halley Research Station in Antarctica.
14. Over 2500 members of the public voted on their favorite images from this year's contest, and Paul Kingston's "Storms Cumbria" was named the most popular of the bunch.
15. Paul Andrew's ominous image shows an evening storm over Mono Lake in California.
16. The feathery structures featured in this photo aren't feathers at all, but rather frost patterns on a car windshield.
17. In this shot from 2014 the iconic Matterhorn mountain in Switzerland peeks out from behind orographic cloud winds.
18. A supercell corkscrew updraft, photographed by Stephen Lansdell in Nebraska, glows brilliantly. Lansdell called it "a wonderful display."
19. Clear weather was forecast for this mid-May morning when photographer Steve Smith found himself caught in a cloud tunnel in North Wales.
20. Photographer Tim Moxon wasn’t the only person attracted to this slow-moving tornado forming over Colorado. He captured another spectator who had pulled over to take in the sight. For this photo, Moxon was awarded Overall Weather Photographer of the Year.
21. "First Light" depicts the first rays of the sunrise as they hit the Snowdon summit in Wales.
22. In "'UFO' over the Caucasus," what looks like a flying saucer is actually an unusual cloud formation near Mount Elbrus in Russia.