The Mystery Storms

No one could agree where they had formed and everyone claimed to have been the photographer. We decided to investigate…

A set of storm photos have been passed around the world by email. But no one seems to agree where they were taken, nor who the photographer was. We decided some clarification was required.

Over the last few months, we have received many emails from members around the world alerting us to a set of dramatic photos of enormous multicell and supercell storms. The photographs, shown below, have spread virally all over the world – passed from one cloud enthusiast to the next – yet no one seems to agree on where the storms appeared, nor even who the photographer was.

Some emails said the photographs were taken in Brazil – around Indaiatuba, near São Paulo. Others, in Israel. Many claimed they were from Western Australia, placing the storms near Bunbury, south of Perth. Most recently, they have been described as shots of ‘Hurricane Katrina coming in’.

No one has yet claimed that they were on the surface of the Moon, but it won’t be long at this rate. So we decided to do some research and identify the mystery photos once and for all.

They were, in fact, taken by a storm chaser based in Nebraska, US, called Mike Hollingshead. He has been photographing tornados and storms in the mid-US for years. The shots in question were from Nebraska and Kansas in the summer months 2004 and 2002. They, and many other fantastically angry clouds, can be seen on his website

Mike is both amazed at how far the photographs have traveled and horrified at how many people have claimed that they were the photographers. “For the last 4 months I’ve found it hard to go one day without getting e-mails about them,” he says. “At least it has been fun pointing out how many liars there are in the world.”

We are glad the confusion is now cleared up, but are stunned and amazed that despite all the coverage, claimed-ownerships, and misidentifications, no one seems to have noticed that one of the clouds (middle row of the left hand column, below) is an eerie likeness of Margaret Thatcher.


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