Storm chasers are enamored by the beauty of severe storms. Mike Olbinski, a photographer, is no exception. His fascination with weather began at an early age, and it was this fascination that led him to pick up a camera. He’s now a professional wedding and portrait photographer who still chases storms whenever he gets the chance. He was recently rewarded for his efforts with a rare quadruple microburst.
A microburst is a “localized column of sinking air (downdraft) within a thunderstorm,” according to the National Weather Service. These microbursts can be dry or wet, with a lot of precipitation, and they can do a lot of damage wherever they land. Oblinski saw four distinct columns of precipitation heading toward Earth, which is extremely unusual. When the event occurred, the photographer was on a storm-chasing excursion with two visitors and an assistant.
“The microburst was an unbelievable catch for us.” In Arizona, I’ve seen a number of these, but they’re always just a single downburst or column of rain,” Oblinski tells My Modern Met. “This was unlike anything I’d ever seen before. We had two for a few minutes and it looked surreal, but then we noticed the right side of the storm was starting to dump as well, and then there were simply four gigantic columns of rain and hail pouring down, all plainly visible and unreal.”
The encounter was a fantastic way to cap off a day that had been mostly unremarkable up to that point. The crew was actually on its way to the hotel when they noticed the storm forming near Andrews, Texas. They chose to go ahead of the storm in order to see what would happen if a microburst appeared.
“We were the only storm chasers on it, which is unusual,” Oblinski remembered, “so our images and time-lapses were all that captured it.” “It was an incredible feeling.” But it was also beautiful to just stand there and watch it develop. Euphoric. This is why we hunt in the first place: to witness something like this.”
Watch the rare quadruple microburst unfold in these behind-the-scenes video.
Check out some other incredible photos from storm chaser Mike Olbinski.
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