By Hannah Stevens @Hannahshewans
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Videographer / director: Jason Weingart
Producer: Hannah Stevens, Ruby Coote
Editor: Joshua Douglas
Veteran storm chaser Jason Weingart travels thousands of miles every year to document the world’s most elusive weather systems.
Last year, the Texas-based photographer tracked down everything from supercell systems to a double rainbow and his love of storms is still as powerful as ever.
He said: “My passion for storms is driven by the challenge that chasing presents. Trying to figure out where the best storms will come together and possibly produce a tornado is like solving a mystery.
“You’re given clues in the form of forecast models, observational soundings and satellite images. It’s then up to you to put all of that together to choose where to target.
“Each day is different and presents its own unique set of challenges.”
Alongside tornadoes and supercells, Jason also photographed mesocyclones - which are formed from the rapidly rotating masses of air that form within thunderstorms - and mammatus clouds - pouch-like cloud structures that form in sinking air.
Although he is intrigued by all manner of natural sightings, Weingart’s most memorable storm to date was a cyclic supercell that formed near Dodge City, Kansas in May last year.
He said: “There were three different occasions when there were two tornadoes occurring simultaneously. At one point there were three tornadoes on the ground at once.
“In all, the storm produced at least eight separate tornadoes.”
Supercells are often the most severe thunderstorms and are characterised by a deep, rotating current of air.
Using high resolution forecast models, Jason begins tracking events days in advance to follow the storm’s movement and map out the best spots for photo opportunities for himself and his photo tours.
Jason said: “On the day of the event, we still look at the models but also take into account surface observations - measurements of available moisture, instability and wind shear - and satellite images to see how the atmosphere is coming together.
“Once a storm forms, we use radar to keep a close eye on the way it is behaving, such as rotating rapidly or gaining strength.”
Throughout 2016, the storm lover was also able to document beautiful wall clouds - large, localised and often abrupt lowering of clouds that develop below storm clouds - and shelf clouds, which are low hanging well-defined wedge or shelf-shaped cloud formations.
Despite Jason’s years of experience, the one weather system that remains the most difficult to track down is the temperamental tornado.
Weingart said: “Everything has to come together in perfect harmony for one to form.
“The atmosphere needs the exact combination of cool, dry air and warm, moist air along with the right amount of instability and wind shear.
“If one ingredient is slightly off, the tornado won’t form.”