While on storm chasing expeditions in Tornado Alley in the U.S. I have encountered many photogenic supercell storms. This photograph was taken while we were approaching a storm near Julesburg, Colorado, on 28 May, 2013.
The storm was tornado warned for more than one hour, but it stayed an LP [low precipitation] storm through all its cycles and never produced a tornado, just occasional brief funnels, large hail, and some rain.
National Geographic Traveler Director of Photography Dan Westergren, one of this year’s judges, shares his thoughts on the first-place winner:
“This winning photo of a supercell over the plains of eastern Colorado stopped the judges in our tracks.
When we first saw the picture we guessed that the photographer probably had dedicated quite a bit of time chasing storms to capture such an amazing sight.
But what makes the picture particularly strong is that except for the cloud, the rest of the scene is quite ordinary. The crazy UFO-looking shape gives the impression that it’s going to suck up the landscape like a tablecloth into a vacuum cleaner.
The unresolved tension in the image makes me want to look at it over and over.”