Photographer Mike Olbinski has been chasing monsoons in the Southwest desert for years, wandering across the Arizona landscape hunting storms with his camera at the ready. This year, after spending 48 days driving around the state documenting the monsoons as they buffeted the region, he compiled the images he captured into a mesmerizing video.
To document the storms, Olbinski, a self-professed storm-chasing wedding photographer, drove over 17,000 miles taking 105,000 time-lapse photos along the way, according to the description he posted with the video. Out of that staggering number of images, Olbinski selected 55,000 photos, which he then transformed into a video set to Kerry Muzzy’s “Palladio Rebuilt,” a soundtrack that adds even more emotional depths to the stunning lightning, dust, and cloud movements. One of Olbinski’s favorite moments in the video is the mesocyclone that briefly appears at the 3:38 mark.
Arizona’s monsoon season tends to occur during the summer months as a shift in winds brings in moisture from the Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. The resulting meteorological events are marked by thunderstorms, rain showers, mini-cyclones, and, occasionally, dust storms barreling through the desert; an epic display of Mother Nature’s power, all captured beautifully in Olbinski’s video.