Monster waves, mammatus clouds and double rainbows scoop top weather photography prize


Following on from the image shortlist we shared earlier this year, the winners of the Royal Meteorological Society’s annual Weather Photographer of the Year competition have just been announced.

Christopher Ison’s dramatic photo Storm Eunice, taken in Newhaven in the UK last year, has won the main prize. The image led a field of talented photographers of all ages from all around the world, capturing weather and climate in their most vivid forms.

“When the storm was predicted, and it was carrying the first ever red warning for the south coast, I knew I had to find a spot to record it,” said Christopher.

“I got there reasonably early to find many photographers already drenched in rain and seawater, standing very close to the harbour wall. I decided to head to high ground and slightly further away with my back to the weather. I was rewarded with a set of images I’m very proud of.”

The winner of the public vote was Jamie Russell from the Isle of Wight, UK, for his image of a double rainbow and storm clouds passing over a lifeboat station. Jamie had been chasing showers and storms from west to east across the island in an attempt to capture some of the incredible rainbows. He reached Bembridge as the final shower departed and, in a panic, waded into waist-deep water, fully dressed, to compose this image.

The Young Weather Photographer of the Year 2022 was awarded to Eris Pil, from Pennsylvania, USA. His photo entitled Mammatus Sunset was taken on an iPhone, and the judges were impressed that he had managed to capture such a rare event which can be difficult to photograph.

The Royal Meteorological Society is a membership charity that serves as the leading independent expert in weather and climate. It is owned by its members, but exists for the benefit of all. It plays a key role in ensuring that the public stay informed and engaged with the latest climate and weather stories from the UK, and around the world.

Overall winner – Storm Eunice

Huge waves crash over a lighthouse during storm

Huge waves rise from the sea at Newhaven during Storm Eunice, in this image from 18 February 2022. The south coast of the United Kingdom received its first ever red weather warning due to the huge storm. Several people died under falling trees and winds reached 197km/h on the Isle of Wight. Photo by Christopher Ison

Overall runner-up – Frozen

Frozen ice at Niagra Falls

Icicles hang off buildings and rocks alike, during freezing temperatures at Niagra Falls, Ontario, Canada, in January 2018. Photo by Zhenhuan Zhou

Third place overall – Ghost under the cliff

Brocken Spectre with a rainbow halo silhouette

A phenomenon known as a ‘Brocken Spectre’ is seen on a cliff at Tavertet, Barcelona, Spain, in June 2021. A Brocken Spectre is a large shadow of an observer (in this case the photographer) cast onto a cloud or mist. When a person stands on a hill like this one with the Sun behind them, their shadow can be projected down onto the cloud below. Photo by Emili Vilamala Benito

Public vote winner – Departing Storm over Bembridge Lifeboat Station

Storm clouds and a rainbow over a boat

This image of a rare double rainbow was taken in the waters by Bembridge, Isle of Wight, United Kingdom, as a storm retreated from the island. Photo by Jamie Russell

Youth category winner – Mammatus sunset

Mammatus clouds lit by a setting sun

Mammatus clouds are some of the most unusual and distinctive in the sky. They appear as a series of bulges or pouches emerging from the base of the cloud and form in the most unstable cumulonimbus clouds due to turbulence. Mammatus comes from the Latin mamma, which translates to ‘udder’ or ‘breast’, and they are more visible when the sun is low in the sky, and the sunlight frames their pouches. This image was taken in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, on 16 June 2022. Photo by Eris Pil

Youth category runner-up – Tyndall effect

Light rays shine through trees

The Tyndall effect is when sunlight is scattered by small particles in the air, such as dust or smoke particles. Similar to Rayleigh scattering, it is the process that causes the sky to appear blue and the sky at sunset and sunrise to appear orange or red. Under the Tyndall effect (and Rayleigh scattering), the shorter wavelength blue light is scattered more than the longer wavelength red light, and as our eyes are more sensitive to blue light, we see the sky as blue. This image was taken in Trivandrum, India, on 23 February 2022. Photo by Shreya Nair

More images from Science Focus:

Mobile category winner – Sunset

Pagoda reflecting a sunset on a cloudy day

A pagoda reflects the glow of the setting Sun as it breaks through the rain clouds over Myanmar, in May 2022. Photo by Aung Chan Thar

Mobile category runner-up – Scotch mist

Mist rises above trees

An early-morning mist descends over Tarbet, Loch Lomond, Scotland, United Kingdom, in September 2021. Photo by Vince Campbell

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