Storm chasers live for the beauty of intense weather. Photographer Mike Olbinski is no different. His love of weather started at a young age and, actually, it was this love that inspired him to pick up the camera. Now, he's a professional wedding and portrait photographer while continuing to chase storms any chance he gets. His hard work recently paid off when he was rewarded with a rare quadruple microburst.
According to the National Weather Service, a microburst is a “localized column of sinking air (downdraft) within a thunderstorm.” These microbursts can be dry or wet, with a high concentration of precipitation, and can cause a lot of damage where they touch down. What Oblinski witnessed was four clear columns of precipitation shooting toward Earth, which is quite rare to see. The photographer was out on a storm-chasing tour with two guests and an assistant when they witnessed the event.
“The microburst was such an amazing catch for us. I've seen a lot of them in Arizona, but it's always always a single downburst or column of rain,” Oblinski tells My Modern Met. “This was something else. We had two for a few minutes and it was unreal looking and then we quickly realized the right side of the storm was beginning to dump as well and suddenly before us were just these four massive columns of rain and hail crashing down, all clearly visibly separated which was unreal.”
The sighting was a great way to end the day, which has been largely uneventful until that point. In fact, the group was on their way to the hotel when they saw the storm developing near Andrews, Texas. They decided to get in front of the storm to see what would happen when the microburst appeared.
“We were the only storm chasers on it—which is a rare thing—so our photos and time-lapses were all that captured it,” Oblinski recalled. “[It] was an amazing feeling. But beyond that, just standing there, watching it unfold was magical. Euphoric. This is why we chase, to see stuff like this.”