By Amanda Stringfellow @amanda_l_s

STUNNING supercells and terrifying tornadoes - storm chaser Mike Olbinski chases some of the most extreme weather in the world

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Videographer / Director: Mike Olbinski
Producer: Rebecca Lewis, Nick Johnson
Editor: Kyle Waters

Storm chaser: This supercell had some rotation on radar which you can see up ahead over the middle of the road

Mike spends almost all his free-time photographing extreme weather formations such as vast super cell thunderstorms and lightning strikes - often travelling hundreds of miles in a single day. 

The 40-year-old has been fascinated by storms since he was a child and has progressed from photographing lightning in his back garden to become a professional storm photographer.

Rainbow: Near Burlington, Colorado, a severe storm that moments before had pelted Mike with hail, moves off into the plains of Kansas - leaving behind it a beautiful rainbow

This year, the father-of-three, from Phoenix, Arizona, USA, spent two weeks on the plains of Arizona, Kansas, Colorado, Oklahoma, Texas and California - capturing incredible time-lapse footage of Mother Nature in action.

Dodging dangers such as tennis ball sized hailstones and treacherously strong winds, he succeeded in revealing the beauty behind the potentially life-threatening weather patterns.

Dark skies: A simple towering cumulus transomed in two hours into this storm hovering over the farmlands northwest of Pampa, Texas

Mike said: “When I started getting into photography I realised people were chasing storms and I had no idea that people did that.

“I realised I don’t have to wait for a storm to come to my house - I could actually go out after it and improve my chance of getting good photographs.

“This year my goal was to make my time-lapse film, called ‘The Chase’.”

Extreme weather: This storm earlier spawned a brief tornado near Groom, Texas. It moved to the northeast across the rolling farmlands, the hail core and structure was magnificent to behold

Having dedicated a full week to storm chasing the previous year, Mike knew that his new project would require a greater time commitment.

“I really wanted to do the best job I could so I knew I needed to spend as much time out on the plains as I could,” he said.

“Last year I was out on the plains for seven days, and this year it was 14.”

Frightening Lightning: On the second day of a 12-day chase trip to the central plains, Mike caught up with this supercell in its early stages just south of Lamar, Colorado

And the photographer’s persistence was rewarded by a series of stunning extreme weather shots caught on camera.

A super cell in Canadian Texas provided Mike with his first breath-taking extreme weather moment of the project.

Purple: The setting sun transforms the landscape as a bolt of lightning hits a stretch of rolling farmland

Mike said: “This beautiful super cell just kind of formed.

“We were on it from the beginning, we saw it go up, we got near it, we waited - and all of a sudden it started rotating.

Dangerous work: Mike had to hold his tripod down as he was blasted by 40-50mph winds up on the ridge above Billings, Montana

“A little needle funnel started coming down and the whole cloud was rotating. I couldn’t be happier to get something like that on time-lapse.”

Another highlight was a storm Mike and his team chased down in western Texas near New Mexico.

“As we were racing towards the storm the sun is going down and there’s this line of rain in front of us - so the sun had backlit the storms and the rain," he said.

The Chase: Mike raced south from North Dakota for over 90 minutes to catch up with a stationary supercell

“We finally get close to the storm and it was a beautiful super cell with crazy purples and yellows and lightning.

“It was one of those surreal moment where you know if you come back the next day it would look like a blurring farm field - but at that moment you felt like you were on another planet.”

Stunning: On a long highway between Merriman and Hyannis, Nebraska, a huge Mesoscale Convective System moves by, leaving behind it wet roads and a gorgeous sky filled with mammatus clouds. A bit of lightning snakes around on the left side of the storm

Despite the incredible sights, Mike never gets too caught up in the moment to realise the dangers storm chasing can pose.

“There are a lot of dangers, there’s tornados there’s really strong winds there’s huge hail that can damage your car,” he said.

In the pink: A little supercell near Aurora, Colorado

“If you’re standing outside and get hit on the head with a tennis ball size hail stone - that can mess you up.

“That’s why we study, we learn, we practice, we take precautions.

On wheels: The truck Mike uses to chase storms for miles across the plains

“We watch radar, know where we are with escape routes on roads and are constantly aware of our surroundings.”

But tracking the most violent hurricanes and tornadoes in the USA does have its rewards.

Mother Nature: Mike's camera equipment he uses to capture amazing weather patterns in the back of his storm chasing truck

Mike said: “The best part about being a storm chaser is this utter freedom that you have. You find the storm, you chase it - you see such beautiful amazing things.

“A huge super cell over the plains with crazy structure and lightning striking or a tornado that’s just hovering out in the distance. You’re almost euphoric when you see a storm that just blows your mind.”