A tall purple storm cloud dominates the sky

Storm Chasing

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Dive deep into Arizona storm chasing, where photographers showcase their talents through following storm clouds and dust devils across the state.

In certain parts of the U.S., a severe weather warning from the National Weather Service is a signal to find shelter. A basement, a cellar, a sturdy room in the center of the house. In parts of Arizona, those weather warnings are most frequently issued for dust storms, and they come with very important advice: stay off the roads.

But for some people, severe weather warnings are a cue. Storm chasers make a hobby, or even a living off chasing the very events that drive the rest of us indoors. And while many storm chasers are researchers who do it for the data, some storm chasers are in it for the artistry.

Photographer Mike Olbinski is one of these. You may not know his name, but if you live in the Phoenix area you’re sure to know his work. Olbinski took a viral series of time-lapse images on July 5, 2011, as a monumental wave of dust rolled over and engulfed the Valley of the Sun. In this episode, we hear from Mike as he describes how storm chasing became first a hobby, then a business, and how he chases the perfect image of each storm.

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