Every spring, Weatherwise's inbox is filled with spectacular photographs of meteorological events sent in by readers around the country. Entries range from beautiful atmospheric phenomena such as the Aurora Borealis, to quintessential seasonal images such as ice floes, to dramatic storms such as tornadoes. This year, the cloud has taken center stage among the winners of the contest. Our Grand Prize winner is one of the most spectacular examples of mammatus clouds the judges have ever seen. The Grand Prize winner is followed closely by a the First Prize winner, which is a pair of photographs of a lenticular cloud above Mount Rainier in Washington state. The photographs, taken hours apart, provide a stark contrast between day and night with the common thread of the cloud tying the two together. Supercells, wall clouds, cirrus fall streaks, hole clouds, and unusual fog formations make up just some of the other winning cloud photographs this year. Congratulations to these and all of our winners!
Cedar Bluffs, Nebraska
This spectacular example of mammatus was photographed in Cedar Bluffs, Nebraska, on June 25, 2011, after a violent summer storm.
Battle Ground, Washington
This day and night pair of photographs shows an unusually long-lasting lenticular cloud above Mount Rainier in Washington State, photographed in September 2011.
El Cerrito, California
Strong atmospheric distortions create a “Chinese lantern” effect as the sun sets over the Pacific Ocean, photographed in Pacifica, California, in summer 2011.
An unusually bright rainbow with a supernumerary bow photographed south of Taos, New Mexico, on September 2, 2006.
Buffalo Grove, Illinois
An exceptionally warm and humid March day, along with a slight breeze off a still-cold Lake Michigan, created a spectacular foggy view of the Chicago skyline.
The sun sets through a supercell featuring arc clouds and a banded underside of an anvil cloud, photographed near Tryon, Nebraska, on August 17, 2011.
A single bolt of lightning traveling up and down a rain shaft, photographed just south of Santa Fe, New Mexico, on September 13, 2011. The city lights of Santa Fe are seen reflected on the lower clouds.
Rick Schmidt, Topeka, Kansas
A spectacular example of a mesocyclone outside Jamestown, Kansas, photographed on June 19, 2010.
Tracie Stier-Johnson, Cornelius, North Carolina
Distinct cirrus fallstreaks create an impressive hole cloud in Huntersville, North Carolina, photographed in December 2011.
Marcus Prazniak, El Cerrito, California
Kelvin–Helmholtz waves make a rare and brief appearance over the Bay Area of California, photographed in the fall of 2011.
Neva Anderson, St. Cloud, Minnesota
A windmill provides a striking contrast to a spectacular example of the Aurora Borealis, photographed north of Fergus Falls, Minnesota, on April 23, 2012.
Doug Kiesling, St. Cloud, Minnesota
Ice forms a lily pad pattern on January 22, 2012, along the shore of Lake Superior below the Split Rock Light House in Northern Minnesota.
Megan O'Leary, Sandwich, Massachusetts
Boats are silhouetted at Collins Landing, Massachusetts, to spectacular effect as the sun burns through the fog.
Tony Laubach, Lakewood, Colorado
The sun sets at the end of a stormy day near Pratt, Kansas, on May 20, 2011.