Spectacularly beautiful weather photos will remind you what the outdoors looks like


The Royal Meteorological Society has announced 2020’s Weather Photographer of the Year, providing a ton of gorgeous options for new desktop backgrounds. If we can’t go outside due to a deadly global pandemic, at least the outside can kind of come to us.

The top prize this year went to Rudolf Sulgan for “Blizzard,” a chilly image of New York’s Brooklyn Bridge during a severe snow storm. He was awarded $646 for his photograph, as well as a HERO8 Go Pro and one year of membership to the Royal Meteorological Society.

“I made this image in 2018, during a strong blizzard as El Niño’s periodic warming of water often disrupts normal weather patterns,” said Sulgan. “My main concern and inspiration are that my images hopefully do a small part in combating climate change.”

“Blizzard,” taken on Brooklyn Bridge, Manhattan, New York in winter 2018.

Sulgan’s photograph wasn’t the only spectacular image to come out of the competition held in association with AccuWeather. Over 7,700 entries were received from around the globe, which a judging panel whittled down to just 26 finalists.

First runner-up was Vu Trung Huan’s enchantingly beautiful “Tea Hills,” taken at the Long Coc tea hills in Phu Tho Province, Vietnam. Maja Kralijik won second runner-up for “Monster,” a photograph of a shelf cloud in Umag, Croatia.

"Tea Hills," taken in Long Coc Tea Hill, Tan Son District, Phu Tho Province, Vietnam on Sept, 22 and Oct. 30, 2019.

“Tea Hills,” taken in Long Coc Tea Hill, Tan Son District, Phu Tho Province, Vietnam on Sept, 22 and Oct. 30, 2019.

"Monster," taken in Umag, Croatia on Sept. 24, 2017

“Monster,” taken in Umag, Croatia on Sept. 24, 2017

The Public Favourite pick was Alexey Trofimov’s “Baikal Treasure,” which he took during an expedition on Lake Baikal in Russia. This photograph beat out the 25 other finalists from 15 countries to win the public vote.

“It was noon, not really my photo time,” said Trofimov. “But the light that the sun gave, refracting in blocks of ice, caught my attention and made me take this picture.”

"Baikal Treasure," taken at Kotelnokovsky cap, Lake Baikal, Russia, on Feb. 27, 2013.

“Baikal Treasure,” taken at Kotelnokovsky cap, Lake Baikal, Russia, on Feb. 27, 2013.

The Royal Meteorological Society also announced the Young Weather Photographer of the Year 2020, a category for photographers aged 17 and under. This year’s award went to 17-year-old Kolesnik Stephanie Sergeevna for “Frozen Life,” an image of a green leaf suspended in ice.

“I wanted to take this shot because it is a ‘part of sunny Summer frozen in ice,'” said Kolesnik, who lives in Russia. “Time seems to have stopped for this leaf.”

"Frozen Life," taken in Russia.

“Frozen Life,” taken in Russia.

Image: Kolesnik Stephanie Sergeevna

Runner up was Emma Rose Karsten’s “Surf’s Up,” taken with an iPhone XS in the parking lot of Lafayette High School in Wildwood, Missouri, in June this year. It just goes to show that you don’t always need an expensive camera setup to capture stunning images.

“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,” said the then-17-year-old. “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.”

"Surf's Up," taken at Lafayette High School in Wildwood, Missouri on June 22, 2020.

“Surf’s Up,” taken at Lafayette High School in Wildwood, Missouri on June 22, 2020.

A 2021 calendar containing all the winners and finalists is currently available for preorder at the Royal Meteorological Society’s website. It may be a helpful, hopeful reminder that there is a world beyond doomscrolling in your apartment.

"A Thirsty Earth," taken at Chittagong, Bangladesh on Dec. 18, 2019.

“A Thirsty Earth,” taken at Chittagong, Bangladesh on Dec. 18, 2019.

"Before a Storm," taken at Dyrholaey, Iceland on Sept. 10, 2019.

“Before a Storm,” taken at Dyrholaey, Iceland on Sept. 10, 2019.

Image:  Mikhail Shcheglov

"El Chaltén," taken March 4, 2019 at El Chaltén, Argentina.

“El Chaltén,” taken March 4, 2019 at El Chaltén, Argentina.

Image: Francisco Javier Negroni Rodriguez

"Lavaredo's Gloria," taken at Tre Cime di Lavaredo, Dolomites, Italy on Aug. 10, 2019.

“Lavaredo’s Gloria,” taken at Tre Cime di Lavaredo, Dolomites, Italy on Aug. 10, 2019.

Image: Alessandro Cantarelli

"Dam Wet," taken at Wet Sleddale Dam, Cumbria, UK, on March 15, 2019.

“Dam Wet,” taken at Wet Sleddale Dam, Cumbria, UK, on March 15, 2019.

"Mammatus Outbreak," taken near Saxony, Germany on April 4, 2018.

“Mammatus Outbreak,” taken near Saxony, Germany on April 4, 2018.

"Small Tornado," taken at Sabzevar, Iran on Sept. 14, 2019.

“Small Tornado,” taken at Sabzevar, Iran on Sept. 14, 2019.

Image: Hadi Dehghanpour 

"Pinnacles of Light," taken at Mangersta sea stacks, Isle of Lewis, Scotland on Oct. 1, 2019.

“Pinnacles of Light,” taken at Mangersta sea stacks, Isle of Lewis, Scotland on Oct. 1, 2019.

"Predawn Thunderstorm over El Paso, Texas," taken at El Paso, Texas, U.S., on Nov. 6, 2019.

“Predawn Thunderstorm over El Paso, Texas,” taken at El Paso, Texas, U.S., on Nov. 6, 2019.

"Halo," taken at Mogilev, Belarus on Feb. 26, 2015.

“Halo,” taken at Mogilev, Belarus on Feb. 26, 2015.

"Final Stand," taken at Arizona, U.S., on July 9, 2018.

“Final Stand,” taken at Arizona, U.S., on July 9, 2018.

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