This just in at the Department of Awesome Natural Phenomena: Videographer Craig Shimala captured this stunning time-lapse footage of an intense thunderstor that took place over the Chicago skyline on June 30, 2014. It begins with the storm clouds rolling in over the city and peaks with a dramatic triple skyscraper lightning strike on the Willis Tower, Trump Tower and the John Hancock Center. A truly remarkable sight.

Even more remarkable still, Shimala filmed the exact same occurrence almost four years ago to the day, on June 23, 2010.

[via Colossal]

The Department of Awesome Natural Phenomena invites you to check out this breathtaking timelapse video of the formation of a colossal supercell thunderstorm between Wright and Newcastle, Wyoming on May 18, 2014. The video was shot by the Basehunters, a storm chasing team founded by Colt Forney, Kevin Rolfs, Scott Peake, and Isaac Pato.

"Supercells are severe thunderstorms, notable for both their rotating winds and for the long duration they can play out over. Though this particular one did not touch down to form a tornado, it’s easy, as you watch the clouds spin rapidly overhead, to see just why supercells often do end in tornadoes, or at the very least extremely damaging storms."

For more of their incredible storm chasing footage and photos, check out the Basehunter’s YouTube channel and Facebook page.

[via Twisted Sifter and io9]

Just because it’s almost June doesn’t mean that that Department of Awesome Natural Phenomena has stopped discovering amazing ice formations. Cathy Hartt, who lives in Montrose, CO, was out walking her dog early on the morning of May 12, 2014 when she encountered this beautiful sheet of snow at the bottom of a slide in Buckley Park that had folded and frozen like a giant piece of ribbon candy.
Photo by Cathy Hartt via 7NEWS, KGMH in Denver
[via Twisted Sifter]

Just because it’s almost June doesn’t mean that that Department of Awesome Natural Phenomena has stopped discovering amazing ice formations. Cathy Hartt, who lives in Montrose, CO, was out walking her dog early on the morning of May 12, 2014 when she encountered this beautiful sheet of snow at the bottom of a slide in Buckley Park that had folded and frozen like a giant piece of ribbon candy.

Photo by Cathy Hartt via 7NEWS, KGMH in Denver

[via Twisted Sifter]

Japanese Twitter user @KAGAYA_11949 captured these awesome images of a phenomenal bolt of lightning striking the Tokyo Skytree. With a height of 634 meters (2,080 ft), it’s Japan’s tallest structure and the tallest broadcasting tower in the world. The view from up there must be amazing, but we’d rather not be in there during a storm like this.

Photos via Nikken Sekkei and KAGAYA_11949

[via RocketNews24]

Today the Department of Awesome Natural Phenomena introduces us to an incredibly beautiful nighttime occurrence known as Light pillars. They’re one of nature’s rewards for enduring extremely cold weather.

Light pillars are created when ice crystals with roughly horizontal faces form in the atmosphere and reflect light from the sun, moon, or even man-made sources such as street lights.

"So, how does one explain all of the colors? As the Weather Doctor states, ‘Because the light rays forming pillars are reflected, they take on the color of the incident light. For example, when the sun is higher in the sky, pillars are white or bright yellow in color. But when it is near the horizon and its light color dominantly orange, gold or red, so is the resulting pillar.’”

Light pillars have been known to be the source of false UFO reports, which doesn’t seem at all surprising when you consider the Close Encounters-esque atmosphere in each of these wonderful photographs.

Photos by Jay Callaghan, Osato Naoya, Francis Anderson, Tristan Grezko, and Jason Ahms respectively.

Visit My Modern Metropolis to view a few more.

Thanks to the storm-chasing efforts of Phoenix, AZ-based photographer Mike Olbinski. it’s time to pay a visit Department of Awesome Natural Phenomena. Olbinski knew exactly what he was looking for, but it took him four years to find it: a monstrous rotating supercell thunderstorm.

"And not just a rotating supercell, but one with insane structure and amazing movement… Clouds that rotate and look like alien spacecraft hanging over the Earth."

This breathtaking storm was spotted near Booker, TX on June 3, 2013. Olbinski shot his mesmerizing 4-part time-lapse video using a Canon 5D Mark II camera with a Rokinon 14mm 2.8 lens. The first three parts were shot at 1-second intervals (~880 photos each) and the last was shot at 5-second intervals (90 photos).

Click here to learn more about the making of this awesome video.

The audio track is Impact Lento by Kevin MacLeod.

[via Twisted Sifter]

Winter is an exciting period for the Department of Awesome Natural Phenomena. A redditor by the name of NinjaViking took these fascinating photos of a strangely beautiful ice formation emerging from a metal pipe.

NinjaViking also explained how it happened:

“A long period of rain, then temperature slowly falling to -7°C(19°F). Water in the pipe freezing from the outside in and expanding, thus extruding water through the hole which solidifies as fast as it is exposed.”

[via Twisted Sifter]

Natural wonder + rare weather phenomenon = Super Awesome

On Friday, November 29th the Grand Canyon was completely filled by a stunning layer of fog. In some of the photos it appears as though you’re looking at the edge of the world. This awesome occurrence was the result of a temperature inversion:

An inversion happens when cold air is trapped near the surface of the earth by warmer air above. Humidity in the cooler air creates the fog. While most only fill up parts of the canyon, it’s rare to see the entire canyon enveloped in a sea of clouds.

As the Grand Canyon National Park Facebook page stated, “Rangers wait for years to see it. Word spread like wildfire and most ran to the rim to photograph it. What a fantastic treat for all!”

Photos by Erin Whittaker, the Grand Canyon National Park Facebook, and Dan Ng, Albright Training Center, NPS respectively.

Visit My Modern Metropolis to view more shots of this magnificent meteorological event.

Today the Department of Awesome Natural Phenomena brings us video of an amazing and beautiful winter wonder known as Ice Disc or Ice Circle:

An ice disc, ice circle, or ice pan is a natural phenomenon that occurs in slow moving water in cold climates. Ice circles are thin and circular slabs of ice that rotate slowly in the water. It is believed that they form in eddy currents. Ice discs form on the outer bends in a river where the accelerating water creates a force called ‘rotational shear’, which breaks off a chunk of ice and twists it around. As the disc rotates, it grinds against surrounding ice — smoothing into a circle.

The ice disc seen in this video was found in North Dakota by retired engineer George Loegering while he was hiking along the Sheyenne River. George estimates that the awesome formation was around 55 feet in diameter.

Visit Colossal to check out some beautiful photos of other ice discs and to learn more about this awesome phenomenon.

Don’t worry, that sheep isn’t lost, she’s just enjoying the view. This Awesome Natural Wonder is a boulder called the Kjeragbolten. Located in the Kjerag mountain in Rogaland, Norway, the Kjeragbolten is a 5-cubic-meter glacial deposit wedged in the mountain’s crevasse.

Found in a popular hiking area, the boulder is a spine-tingling tourist destination that’s accessible without any climbing equipment. However, because it’s suspended above a 984-meter deep abyss, we suggest that acrophobia sufferers give it a miss.

In addition to attracting both humans and livestock fond of standing (and sometimes dancing) on the rock and taking in the breathtaking scenery, it’s also a popular BASE jumping location.

1st photo by 7ty9, 2nd photo by Deeds, 3rd photo by Tijs Vrolix.

[via io9 and Atlas Obscura]