Mike Olbinski Captures the Glory and Splendor of Storms and Dramatic Americana Weather

Storm chaser and photographer Mike Olbinski PHOTO: Mike Olbinski/Weatherman Umbrella

I recently came across the work of Arizona based storm chaser Mike Oblinski. He travels thousands of miles across the western and midwestern U.S. in pursuit of dramatic and awe-inspiring storms, which he films in time lapse. His of sense of timing, scale, contrast and even the music he chooses is wonderful. His music selection varies but, for me, it’s the epic pieces that work best. The work of composer Kerry Muzzey from Joilet, Illinois, is often featured.

Mike is a bit unsung on You Tube with 56,300 subscribers. But his work has appeared in a Marvel feature film, and won an Emmy award for his work during the 2015 monsoon season.

Having grown up in Kansas, these storms always left a strong impression on me when I experienced them. This includes a major tornado when I was 15. I had tornado dreams until I was 40. It wasn’t really post-traumatic stress syndrome, as I rather enjoyed them, and the storm warnings that came with that region. It was more about awe, and I totally get Mike’s passion. And of late, I’ve been feeling a psychological nostalgia for the experiences there.

So with Oblinski, I can let a true artist send those chills down my back as I sit in the comfort of my living room chair. But I also appreciate the risks Oblinski took to create his art. He says his closest call was a 90-mph microburst in western Kansas that blew out the back windows of about five storm chaser’s vehicles.

In his films, the intensity builds. At the back end of the clips, you will get the big rotational power of dark super cells that escalates the drama and leaves one gaping at what these storms were doing. When viewing, pay close attention, it’s essential not to leave early.

The massive, rotating, storm cells lit by lightning are jaw-dropping. You can see internal lightning (called cloud-to-cloud or CC) and cloud to ground (CG) bolts snapping off like flashbulbs. The clouds in the storm take on a sort of reverse look, like a photographic negative. I swear, I could see flying monkeys just below squall lines. One’s imagination is fired up while watching.

The raw power that creates these storms is hard to comprehend. But enough of my impressions. See for yourself.  Best viewed on high resolution screens.

The first is a little tamer but nevertheless impressive, the Arizona Monsoon. He shot 45,000 frames and drove 14,000 miles. Outstanding soundtrack Legend from Ryan Taubert.

Next is “Seven Days on the Plains” filmed in New Mexico, Colorado, Kansas and Texas. This is pure Americana.

My personal favorites he calls “Vorticity.” Here, he pulls out all the stops. Mike states, “I put out this film called Vorticity II this summer, and it took me two years to get footage for it because everything that I thought was great that I used to shoot is now boring to me. I just want everything to be more incredible – in terms of colors, structure, all this stuff.”

Mike says he tries to stay out of heavy rain because of the equipment and you will notice the film cuts off just before the squall lines come overhead. This collection comprises 120,000 frames. Music in V2 from Luke Atencio and V3 Ryan Taubert.. These shouldn’t be missed.

14 Comments on Mike Olbinski Captures the Glory and Splendor of Storms and Dramatic Americana Weather

  1. Not a storm chaser but a storm watcher out here in the mountains of rural far west Texas where we don’t have tornadoes (too mountainous) but “dust devils” throughout spring, which, due to lack of rain, is known as “fire season” out here. Then comes “rainy season” (July through September) with thunder-lightning galore (much of the lightning in the videos is SOP out here)…the dude needs to come out this way, stand atop a mountain (or go to MacDonald Observatory) and do his time-lapse photography there…or stand in the high plains (4000-7000 feet) and do his work there…he just might be amazed. Because kiddo, he won’t be in Kansas!

  2. Good idea! A little something different amidst the terror..

    The concept is “sublime” – a mixture of awe, wonder, joy heightened by a sense of fear. Something akin to a religious experience. Lots of people started writing about it in the late 18C – and started heading to the Alps to try it out.

    But is it too nit-picky to point out that it’s all time-lapse video – the world never looks that way – clouds don’t move that fast. It is, strictly speaking, “cartoon world” we’re being shown.

    Perhaps it is. Everyone here understands that. But perhaps worth reflecting whether you need juiced-up video to get you to “sublime”. Perhaps it suggests an exercise: next time the thunder heads roll in – step outside and gaze up – perhaps for as long as you have run the videos – and look at the towering white masses against the brilliant blue (the chemtrails will have cleared off!) or the slowing shifting black on grey cloud forms – see how close you get to: sublime.

  3. Here in Utah, there are numerous places to go camping and weld yourself to the primal forces of nature. One is a small place called Zion National Park:


    Zion contains one of the most scenic canyons in the U.S. and has a maze of tall, deep, sandstone cliffs hundreds of feet tall, that wind in and out like a snake. Many times I was lucky enough to spend days experiencing (sometimes on mushrooms) the most intense electrical storms that, when the thunder would explode; it would reverberate off of these cliffs, back and forth, and the sound would displace itself away from you with that amazing Doppler effect that would transport you to a time immemorial. There is one such storm I will never forget back on an early August day in 1994 that contained relentless lightning-strikes and continuous thunder claps that burned itself into my memory forever. Ahh! Just thinking about it again brings it back home once again!

    Great post Russ!

  4. Like the featured artist, meteorological miracles were my thesis in early adulthood. I captured clouds in thousands of photos, lots of videos. Used to spend hours perfecting watercolor swatches to note color.

    In 1977-1978 I began noting a new, exotic herringbone cloud. I later came to learn that this is the trademark effect of what are called ionosphere heaters.

    Forty years ago if you laid on your back on a summer lawn, looking up at the zenith, it was darker than twilight. The gradation of the blue sky became darker than a new pair of indigo jeans overhead. Now it is radically lighter. Our skies are pumped full of nanoparticulate heavy metals and other filth. Read the USAF’s ‘Weather as a Force Multiplier: Owning the Weather by 2025″ for a brief sketch of what is wrong. There is not a technology or operation envisioned in their ridiculous manifesto that has not long since been patented and deployed.

    Weather has been weaponized. It is the new form of warfare. All major nations are into it but he US far surpasses them all.

    What has happened is that the dark forces have gradually taken control of the ionosphere. They can snap it like a rubber band to control the atmosphere.

    If you read old landscape painting books, they tell you (e.g. Carlson, 1930’s) that it is hopeless to draw clouds without knowing the science because they move too fast. They indeed used to roil like the froth on waves breaking on the shore. They don’t now The ionosphere overhead has slowed them down. Sometimes there is movement, but nothing like before. Also in most regions thunderheads are flattened out. The manipulation of the ionosphere has done this.

    I couldn’t finish the video because it depressed me. I have become a connoisseur of these tech horrors and see the markings.

    If you want a short course in what the filth have done to the ionosphere, watch Frankenskies: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pGzwOfSO4g8

    For an in-depth read, try Elana Freeland’s ‘Under an Ionized Sky.’

  5. The biggest element of the clown world is clown skies. https://www.geoengineeringwatch.org/

    I wish every one of you could drive south from Silver City, NM towards Lordsburg, crossing the continental divide and looking at the vast view sweeping down to southern AZ and into northern Mexico. It is a toxic off-white soup. Formerly stark mountains are slaked in goo (e.g. the Chiricahuas) so deep and slimy EVERRY DAY that often you can’t see them in what looks like broad daylight. It used to be so beautiful. In the pst four years in particular it has become so violently repulsive (“invisible” pale sky blue chemtrails the masterpiece of the current executive act). This is your missing ingredient in the panic-demic equation: respiratory irritant. Have hundreds of photos. But not useful ones for there is no orienting oneself in this nanoparticulate heavy metal filth. Not one peak is recognizable. It is so heartbreaking to observe. It is the reason people in the “sun belt” are choking their lungs inside out. Of course the archvirus – aerosolized in their own words, ahem – is present everywhere and it becomes the listed cause of death. But this “conspiracy theory” is so thick and pervasive the vehicle is slaked with it every day. It fills everyone’s lungs in direct relation to population density. It clogs up arteries, brains, lungs, bowels. Especially lungs. Are they even producing statistics for pneumonia anymore? Is all respiratory failure attributed to the archvirus? God in Heaven, that people would wake up.

  6. Beautiful— what a nice change to forget the troubles of the world for a while. And isn’t it amazing how tiny the works of mankind are, there on the land, below the swirling clouds?

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