“Blizzard” by Rudolf Sulgan. Overall winner. “Global warming is the primary cause of the current sea-level rise. As a result, hundreds of millions of people living in coastal areas will become increasingly vulnerable to flooding. Higher sea levels would force them to abandon their homes and relocate. To combat this change in global temperature rise, we can reduce emissions and ensure communities have the resources they need to withstand the effects of climate change. Today’s choices will determine how high sea levels rise, how fast it occurs, and how much time we have to protect our communities. I made this image in 2018, during a strong blizzard as El Nino’s periodic warming of water often disrupts normal weather patterns. My main concern and inspiration are that my images hopefully do a small part in combating climate change.”
Over 7,700 images were entered into the Royal Meteorological Society‘s Weather Photographer of the Year competition. Photographers from across the globe submitted their best imagery capturing the beauty of weather. From incredible cloud formations to ice and snow, the winning photos are a celebration of what nature creates.
Photographer Rudolf Sulgan took home the title of Weather Photographer of the Year for his photograph of people walking across the Brooklyn Bridge in the midst of a blizzard. For Sulgan, the photo is a reminder of our changing climate. The competitions judges were wowed by the composition of the powerful images. “The weather affects all of our lives and this picture captures that perfectly,” said Liz Bentley, Chief Executive of the Royal Meteorological Society (RMetS) and panel judge. “Brooklyn Bridge provides an iconic backdrop, but it is the combined effect of snow, wind and freezing temperatures on the people trying to cross the bridge that tells the whole story—it sends a shiver down my spine.”
The public was also able to vote on their favorite image from a shortlist of 26 photographs. Over 11,000 votes were cast and, in the end, winter won out again. Alexey Trofimov's image of any icy Lake Baikal was awarded the title of Public Favorite. Located in southern Siberia, Lake Baikal is the world's largest freshwater lake. Trofimov captured its stunning appearance during the winter by placing its ice hummocks front and center. Shining like gems, their clear turquoise color pairs well with the sky.
See more winners and finalists below. And, if you like what you see, the Royal Meteorological Society has released their 2021 calendar featuring photos from the contest.
Immerse yourself in nature with winning images from the Weather Photographer of the Year contest.
“Baikal Treasure” by Alexey Trofimov. Public Favorite. “I took this photo during an expedition on the ice of Lake Baikal. On the first day we arrived at Cape Kotelnikovsky, where I was attracted by ice hummocks and a snow cover. It was noon, not really my photo time. But the light that the sun gave, refracting in blocks of ice, caught my attention and made me take this picture.”
“Tea Hills” by Vu Trung Huan. First runner-up. “Lost in the fairy scene. Long Coc tea hill has mysterious and strange features when the sun is not yet up. Hidden in the morning mist, the green color of tea leaves still stands out. Early in the morning, holding a cup of tea, taking a breath of fresh air, Watching the gentle green stretches of green tea hills. It is true that nothing is equal!. For those who love nature, like to watch the sunrise, when standing on the top of the hill, you will the most clearly feel the transition between night and day. A large green land suddenly caught in sight. When the sun is up, everything is tinged with sunlight, on the tea buds there is still glittering morning dew, a pure beauty that makes you just want to embrace everything.”
“Sa Foradada Storm” by Marc Marco Ripoll. Finalist. “I tried many times to catch a good lightning strike behind this rock called Sa Foradada, but every time I tried, the conditions were not so good. I didn't have the moon on the sky to illuminate the scene, or the lightning was too far away. This night I knew that a big storm was approaching Mallorca and all the conditions were perfect. I don't remember if the moon was full, but I remember that it was very big. This was perfect, because the moon was going to illuminate all the land and the sea and gives more color to the scene. I chose my composition, and I shot many pictures until the storm fell on me. This is one of the pictures I took that night in Sa Foradada. To see the storm and the lightning that night was something amazing.”
“Surf's Up” by Emma Rose Karsten. Runner-up, Young Weather Photographer of the Year. “This photo was taken from the parking lot of my high school—Lafayette High School in Wildwood, Missouri (a suburb of St. Louis). I was meeting my friend to hang out in my school parking lot (COVID kept us in so we met to talk from our cars) and this huge, awesome cloud rolled in. My eyes played tricks on me because I initially thought this was a huge wall of water. Shortly after this cloud appeared it rained, but not a significant amount. It was awesome. Literally. I’m glad I was able to capture it. What were the technical challenges? To really get the perspective of how huge the cloud was in relation to my school.”
“Monster” by Maja Kraljik. Second runner-up. “This monster shelf cloud was perhaps the most beautiful structure and size over my area. I was waiting for two hours for the cloud to arrive and then it made a real mess.”
“Frozen Life” by Kolesnik Stephanie Sergeevna. Young Weather Photographer of the Year. “The photo is of a leaf stuck in the ice. Figuratively, this is a print of summer on winter. I wanted to take this shot because it is a ‘part of sunny summer frozen in ice'. It looks like frozen life. Time seems to have stopped for this leaf. It's difficult to take photos in low temperatures and I couldn't work too long. Another problem was finding the best way to take the photo, and I think I finally found it.”
“Cell with Rainbow” by Šime Barešić. Finalist. “That afternoon I was asleep and suddenly woke up from my sleep and looked at my watch and I saw it was time to see off the sunset! When I was already halfway to the destination where I intended to photograph the sunset, I saw that something was safely being prepared and hurried to another destination! When I arrived I felt like a little kid, happy and fulfilled! An indescribable feeling to stand and watch and follow what nature means!”
“Dam Wet” by Andrew McCaren. Finalist. “Whilst trying to visualize the heavy rainfall of March 2019 Wet Sleddale came to mind, I have driven past Wet Sleddale dam many times and seen it dry even after prolonged rainfall, but thought I would take a chance. After a 4:30 am start and a 2 and a half-hour drive from my home in Leeds to Cumbria, I made it to the location and remember shouting ‘yes yes yes' as I saw the water pouring down the spillway.”
“Dream” by Sabrina Garofoli. Finalist. “During the autumn season, in the very early hours of the morning, thanks to some particular climatic conditions it is possible to witness the formation of the ‘river of clouds' in this valley. With the high pressure and the absence of wind, thick layers of fog thicken due to the humidification of the air mass present near the ground and flow along the Adda river, thus giving rise to a muffled landscape. In this period (October-November) the sun rises just behind a dense group of trees: therefore, if the sky is clear, for a few minutes it is possible to observe the formation of these intense rays of light. The photo is taken from a sanctuary, located on a hill overlooking the whole valley.”
“Final Stand” by Tina Wright. Finalist. “This was one of the top two largest haboobs (dust storms) ever recorded in the state of Arizona. At the point of this photo, it was fully mature, towering over a mile high with winds in excess of 80 miles per hour. The sun was setting, giving the dust wall its deep pink hue. It was a truly incredible sight to see!”
“Predawn Thunderstorm over El Paso, Texas” by Lori Grace Bailey. Finalist. “I live in Arizona but was visiting family members in El Paso, Texas that week. Very early on the morning of November 6th I woke up and felt an urge to check my radar app on my phone. I discovered a discrete thunderstorm cell was moving north from Mexico towards the U.S. border near downtown El Paso. I hurriedly gathered my camera gear and drove to an overlook that gave me a perfect vista of the storm and of the downtown El Paso skyline. It's always been a “dream shot” of mine to capture lightning over this desert city landscape. Thankfully the storm held together as it made its trek north across the border between Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, and El Paso, Texas. My dream shot came true as I captured this and several bolts before leaving shortly after this image was taken due to the lightning getting too close for comfort!”
“Halo” by Mikhail Kapychka. Finalist. “Lunar halo over the night forest lake, Mogilev, Belarus. I suddenly saw an unusual lunar halo in the night sky and hurried into the forest to take a picture of it. It was an amazing sight when in the night sky, the halo was like the eye of God. I've never seen this form of halo before. It was freezing weather and I couldn't stay in the forest for a long time, but I really wanted to take a picture of this image.”
“A Thirsty Earth” by Abdul Momin. Finalist. “In winter the water level drops and cultivable lands get dry causing serious drought. In some areas, farmers can't even use water pumps to irrigate their lands. During the drought season, people usually take fields as shortcuts to go from one village to another. I have tried to capture the scene in photos using my drone.”
“Just Walking in the Rain” by Adrian Campfield. Finalist. “My wife and I were standing on the platform waiting for the train at Waterloo Station in London, England. We had been walking around London for the day taking photos and were on the way home. Without any warning, the heavens opened and the storm broke thunder and lightning everywhere. We both ran for cover under the platform shelter as did all the other waiting passengers. I saw this lone woman walking towards me with the umbrella up and I had enough time to get the camera ready. I zoomed in a little, set the speed at 1000/iso to freeze the falling raindrops and this was the result.”
“Ridgeline Optics” by Richard Fox. Finalist. “After a foggy and snowy climb up onto Meall Nan Tarmachan (Hill of the ptarmigans), and along the Tarmachan Ridge, I was greeted, as I ate my lunch on Meall Garbh, to a break in the weather. The sun broke through and behind me a full fog bow, t, and glory. At one point there were multiple glories too.”
“El Chaltén” by Francisco Javier Negroni Rodriguez. Finalist. “An hour before taking this photograph I was walking along the trails that surround the beautiful rock formation known as El Chaltén in Argentina, the day was very cloudy, apparently luck was not with me on this adventure. The climate in Patagonia is somewhat unpredictable, it changes every moment and the wind is so strong that it quickly moves the clouds. Only at times could the figure of the massif be distinguished. My hope was focused on getting to a place from where I could wait very patiently for the weather to help me and give me a window of good weather at sunset to be able to take some photos, but nature surprised me… It was incredible! Only for a moment, the clouds allowed me to see El Chaltén and to my surprise, there was a spectacular and brilliant lenticular cloud with a beautiful and perfect figure that I had never seen. It was a unique and unrepeatable gift that sometimes reminds me of how lucky I am to be a photographer and to be able to visit different places to show the world these natural and climatic beauties.”