15 Spectacular Shots From Weather Photographer of the Year Contest

This story is part of Treehugger's news archive. Learn more about our news archiving process or read our latest news.
Above my expectations. (Photo: Gareth Mon Jones/Royal Meteorological Society)

The Royal Meteorological Society (RMetS), in association with WeatherPro, has announced the winners of the 2019 Weather Photographer of the Year competition. From an Arizona haboob to a stranded ship in Taiwan to a geisha caught in a downpour, these 15 images reveal nature at its finest — and most terrifying.

More than 5,700 photographs were submitted from nearly 2,000 photographers. The society has released a selection of winning photographs from various categories in the competition, along with descriptions of each photo.

Liz Bentley, chief executive of the Royal Meteorological Society, says, "The Royal Meteorological Society was overwhelmed by the quality and quantity of outstanding images submitted to the Weather Photographer of the Year competition this year, celebrating weather and climate in its many different forms. The photographs speak volumes about our obsession in the weather — capturing its beauty, its power and its fragility in the face of human activity."

The Weather Photographer of the Year exhibition will go on tour around the United Kingdom later this year and in 2020.

Here's the overall Weather Photographer of the Year 2019, Gareth Mon Jones, and his reflections on the image of a lone figure staring at clouds in North Wales:

After a long and sketchy hike up The Lliwedd on one of the flanks of Snowdon in North Wales trying to shoot the Milky Way, I finally managed to get above the temperature inversion that had hampered my shoot for much of the night, as the night lost its battle against the rising sun I was inspired to take a long exposure of the mesmerizing cloud as if flowed like liquid leaving Moel Siabod just about peaking through. One of my best nights/mornings in the mountains for a while so I had to put myself in the shot to remind me of this fantastic morning and moment.

Below are more of the competition's incredible entries, each described in the photographer's own words.

The Young Weather Photographer of the Year 2019 (17 and under category)

Spectacular lightning show over Trial Bay. (Photo: Hugo Begg/Royal Meteorological Society)

After watching this spectacular lightning show for an hour I was running out of time to achieve the desired shot. Not two minutes after this shot was taken the stairs hit with heavy rain and gale force winds. I was camping in Trial Bay campground in NSW Australia and on the last day of our trip we were hit with this incredible storm. It could be seen across the bay growing by the second with the front of the storm racing towards us. The spectacular flashes of lightning and the cloud formations called for the perfect photo opportunity. It was then a race against time to get the photo before the rain and fierce wind hit.

The Public’s Favorite Image

The power of lightning. (Photo: Elena Salvai/Royal Meteorological Society)

I am a photographer passionate of lightning and storms. I was shooting a distance storm when suddenly a dazzling light appeared in front of me. It was a strong emotion especially when I saw that I had photographed it. I have been photographing lightning for many years but it had never occurred to me to shoot one so close. I was photographing a thunderstorm far in the distance when this lightning arrived, not more than 300 meters where I was. It was a flash of lightning with an impressive roar. What my eye did not perceive was fixed by my camera.

Second runner-up

Snow Rollers in Wiltshire. (Photo: Brian Bayliss/Royal Meteorological Society)

Conditions have to be just right for snow rollers to occur: a smooth, un-vegetated hillside, such as in this case near Marlborough, enhances the chance of them being formed. A layer of thin snow, settled atop existing ice and not sticking to it, combined with specific temperature, moisture level and wind speed, are fundamental to the creation of these natural oddities.

Forestry worker Mr. Bayliss, 51, said he had "never seen anything like it before" and when he got closer he "could see the sun through the middle, and they just made no sense." "These are truly beautiful photos of a very rare meteorological phenomenon — called snow rollers or snow bales. Brian was very lucky to see these," Mr. Fergusson said.

Runner-up (17 and under)

Motorcycle caught in the snow. (Photo: Ali Bagheri/Royal Meteorological Society)

I am Ali Bagheri. I was born in Iran in 2002. I took this photo on a snowy day. I really love this photo.

Shortlisted image

Morning shadows, Scotney Castle. (Photo: Chris Brown/Royal Meteorological Society)

On a December morning the sun was low in the sky and the morning mist was slowly clearing. I decided to drive down the road with my DJI Mavic2 drone to see what I could shoot. Trees bare of leaves looked like skeletons as the early morning sunlight shone through them highlighting the misty patches, the whole area looked magical.

Shortlisted image

Barrier rainstorm. (Photo: Brian Michael Denton/Royal Meteorological Society)

Rain storm over the Thames barrier that spans the River Thames just east of Greenwich in London, England. The image was taken on the north bank of the River Thames on a warm and sultry afternoon in July 2014. It was one of those typical English summer days when the weather could not really make up its mind what to do.

I was rushing to get some shots in before the rain started, but as the sky got darker I could not resist the urge to stay and see what type of shot I could get. The sun was still hitting the barrier as the rain started and was only really there for a fleeting moment before it started to pour and I ducked for cover.

Shortlisted image

Mountain cloud. (Photo: Iain Afshar/Royal Meteorological Society)

Shot taken after a three-hour snowshoe hike up to the Chalets Loriaz opposite the Vallorcine side of Le Tour in the French Alps near Chamonix. This photo was taken from the Refuge de Loriaz (2020m) after a stiff three-hour snowshoe ascent in mid-winter. This former alpine pasture chalet in the Aiguille Rouges offers spectacular views across to the Mont Blanc Massif region of the French Alps in Chamonix for anyone willing to put the effort into getting there. It shows an unusual (Lenticular) cloud formation sitting directly over the Glacier du Tour and the mountains of Aiguille du Tour (left) and Aiguille du Chardonnet (right). During winter the refuge is completely buried in snow and the only way to access this wonderful spot is on snowshoes or touring skis. Having reached the buried refuge I witnessed this unique cloud formation occurring on the opposite side of the valley. I managed to take a few photographs before the cloud formation disappeared almost as quickly as it had appeared. The remote location of the refuge ensured that I had this view all to myself and without the camera to capture it, I don’t think I would have ever been able to explain what I had seen.

Shortlisted image

The ship of stranded. (Photo: Peng-Gang Fang/Royal Meteorological Society)

There are many ships stranded in typhoon's season. The power of nature, the pollution of sea. We should always think seriously about it.

Shortlisted image

White misty rainbow over the winter garden. (Photo: Elena Belozorova/Royal Meteorological Society)

This year I witnessed an amazing weather phenomenon — a white (or foggy) rainbow. I have already seen such a miracle in Karelia, but never in winter. At night the garden was shrouded in fog. All the apple trees were covered with lush frost. As the sun rose, a giant arc of light flashed over the garden. She lasted a few hours, letting me capture myself in all its glory.

Old farm garden near the village of Lisicina has long been almost no fruit. Nevertheless, he is amazingly beautiful, and I often come here. These days there was a strong frost under 30 degrees and at night fog fell on the city of Vologda. I hurried to go in its favorite garden, and not for good reason! I've never seen such beauty before. Not only that, all the trees covered with fluffy frost, so even at sunrise broke out over the crowns of a white foggy rainbow.

Shortlisted image

Pouring down. (Photo: Patrick Hochner/Royal Meteorological Society)

I live in this neighborhood and as I especially like the way the maiko and geiko (geisha of Kyoto) look when holding their traditional waxed silk umbrella, I often go out when it rains. This day, it was really pouring down and I got lucky to see this maiko coming my way. I went down a bit to get the angle I wanted and took this photo. I will always remember the smile on the girl’s face looking at me, drenched, as she walked by.

Shortlisted image

Cinnamon rolls cloud. (Photo: Bingyin Sun/Royal Meteorological Society)

A fierce windy evening at Jökulsárlón, Iceland, a beautiful cloud above the ice lagoon. Cirrocumulus standing lenticular cloud above Jokulsarlon in Iceland, its unique shape looks like a UFO floating above the ice in the air.

On the way back to hotel, I saw this special cloud in the sky, I turned to Jokulsarlon immediately. Wind was very strong that I could not keep my balance. I almost finished this set of photos on the ground.

Shortlisted image

Apocalyptic. (Photo: Kevin Juberg/Royal Meteorological Society)

This image was taken July 9, 2018. A line of severe thunderstorms started in the eastern part of the state and moved east throughout the afternoon, creating a huge dust storm towering over one-mile-high with winds between 50 to 70 miles per hour and traveling over 200 miles before dissipating just over the California border. This is rated as one of the largest haboobs to ever hit the state of Arizona since keeping records.

Shortlisted image

Tempest #1. (Photo: Dan Portch/Royal Meteorological Society)

Newhaven beach is somewhat infamous for big waves during storm, mainly due its geographic layout combined with the breakwater funnelling wave energy into a small pocket at the foot of the breakwater and beachfront. With the storm forecast and the timing of the high-tide coinciding nicely at lunchtime, I decided it was an ideal time to tick off a bucket-list item and make the 1 hr-drive to Newhaven to experience the conditions. When I arrived, I was completely overwhelmed by the power of the wind and waves on the beach. Also, the sheer amount and power of sea-spray was like something I have never experienced — I was like being continually sandblasted whilst fighting to stand upright against the wind. I only had 30 minutes to take photos, and most of that time was spent wiping sea spray from the lens and camera. However, from that 30 minutes, I came away with a handful of photos of the waves that I hoped portray the power and overwhelming force of tempestuous seas during a storm. I now simply look forward to repeating the experience at Newhaven next time there is storm that aligns with me being able to make the journey.

Shortlisted image

Flood. (Photo: Mohammad Hossein Moheimany/Royal Meteorological Society)

A road in the village of Agqqla in northern Iran, which has been flooded by water. This flood occurred in New Year's Eve in northern Iran and damaged the roads and farm of the people.