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September-October 2017

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From the Editor

The weather can change in the blink of an eye. One moment you can have calm skies, and the next a storm is on the horizon and the wind is blowing trees sideways. Much of the knowledge we have of meteorology comes from scientists being in the right place at the right time to study a weather phenomenon. Sometimes being in the right place at the right time is a matter of pure luck. Other times, it's a matter of persistence, patience, and hard work or working to make sure you are best-positioned to experience a weather event. The content of this issue reflects a bit of all of these factors involved in witnessing a weather event.

The winners of the 2017 Weatherwise photo contest were the benefactors of a lot of good luck and some hard work as they captured some of the best displays on offer from the sky. The spectacular photos that comprise a double Grand Prize win are a bit of both. Storm chasers dedicate hours and many miles on the road to get a glimpse of the spectacular storms that batter the Plains states every summer. But they also have to be in the right place at the right time to photograph these storms to their best advantage, and that takes a bit of good luck. The result can be spectacular, as you will see from these photos. Other winners of this year's photo contest also benefited from some good luck, for example, ice crystals forming in an unusual spot; wintry scenes perfectly set in a barren field; spectacular sunsets, lightning, and rainbows. As usual, the winning photographs capture the amazing array of meteorological events to which we humans are treated at any given time, and the photographic results are nothing short of spectacular.

Meanwhile, Gerald Mulvey, John Miller, and Jon Moriarty show us what it is like to be in the right (and sometimes wrong!) place at the right time from a pilot's perspective. Pilots have a unique perspective when flying through storms, and the electrical charges in the air can cause some impressive displays of Saint Elmo's fire, ball lightning, and other phenomena. These occurrences are both terrifying and exhilarating, and it is fascinating to get an insider's account of what it is like to witness these phenomena thousands of feet up in the air.

I hope you enjoy this issue of Weatherwise. The annual photo contest issue is always one of our favorite issues, and I think the photos capture weather events in a way that will help inspire amateur photographers for the next year. So keep those cameras handy!


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