For the past six years, photographer Chad Cowan has been gathering footage of supercell thunderstorms from Texas to North Dakota and everywhere in between. He recently released a gripping short film called Fractal featuring the hundreds of supercell thunderstorms he has documented condensed in one magnificent time-lapse video.
Cowan originally set out to witness and document the life cycle of a thunderstorm, but that quickly took on a life of its own. 100,000 miles and tens of thousands of shutter clicks later, Fractal is the result.
“Over time, it morphed into an obsession with wanting to document as many photogenic supercells as I could, in as high resolution as possible, as to be able to share with those who couldn’t see first-hand the majestic beauty that comes alive in the skies above America’s Great Plains every spring,” Cowan explains.
What creates a supercell thunderstorm? The technical answer is a combination of wind shear, moisture, instability, and lift. But Cowan has a more poetic answer:
“I prefer to focus on the big picture,” he writes. “Supercell thunderstorms are a manifestation of nature’s attempt to correct an extreme imbalance. The ever ongoing effort to reach equilibrium, or entropy, is what drives all our weather, and the force with which the atmosphere tries to correct this imbalance, the more extreme the storm.”
Cowan hopes to make a much longer version of the short film in the future. He invites anyone who wants to go storm chasing with him to get in touch. Follow him on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook to see more of his work.