I have been collecting storm scenes for years, as they are so great to use in book jackets, but I have never seen one as amazing as this. It was no surprise at all to find that it has gone viral.
West Texas storm chaser Laura Rowe was the photographer who captured this picture of a lifetime, a fantastic shot of a mature supercell thunderstorm, illuminated at varying heights from the setting sun.
You can find the original at Texas Highways.
So, who is Laura Rowe, and how did she get this incredible shot (and I hasten to assure you that though it is incredible, it has not been photoshopped)???
She lives in Katy, Texas, and she is a college basketball player, and a student teacher. Yes, Laura Rowe is very young. When she went out chasing this huge thunderstorm, it was her first storm-chasing adventure.
As she says, “The sunset was absolutely beautiful behind us, with the storm right in front of us. We just listened to some music and watched [the front] change in front of us. It was so beautiful, it’s hard to describe how gorgeous the colors were. It was constantly changing with all kinds of brilliant colors. The photo hardly does it justice."
She posted this photo on twitter on May 17, and then it literally took off. "It had just under 100,000 likes on the night that I posted it before I went to sleep, then had 262,000 the next morning.”
It finally started to level out on Twitter in late May and early June with 512,000 likes, 83,000 retweets, and over 2,000 replies. Instagram garnered her around 25,000 likes and “too many reposts to count.”
“I had no idea what to do initially or how to react,” she recalls. “Everything moved so fast! I actually ended up reaching out to Charlie Stout and he helped me with setting up a website, obtaining my copyright, and handling all of my questions … I had no idea that so many people would love the photo. I had messages from people all around the world telling me how it impacted them.”
Storm-chasers are amazing people. Netflix has a series called "Earthstorm" where one of the four segments is devoted to those who chase tornadoes.
Now, in an emergency, I would follow the rule to either run or take cover -- depending on the emergency, of course. Run from tsunami, take cover in earthquakes. We all have that beaten into our brains, down here in the Shaky Isles (Aotearoa-New Zealand). And in storms, get into shelter, but not under a trees. But these people actually drive right at tornadoes and huge thunderstorms, as fast as they can!
Are they hooked on adrenalin? Probably. But the rest of us can sit back and admire what storm-chasers like young Laura Rowe have achieved in the way of epic photographs.
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