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Check out these breathtaking images from the 2022 Weather Photographer of the Year contest

Rainbows, storm clouds and frozen waterfalls, oh my.

weather photography

Weather is beautiful.

Capturing the perfect image is difficult even under the best of conditions, but when trying to get a snapshot of once-in-a-lifetime moments in nature, the task becomes herculean. The reward, however, is witnessing beauty almost too dazzling to be real.

On Oct. 6, Christopher Ison was awarded the title of Weather Photographer of the Year for his breathtaking photo of storm waves crashing against a lighthouse. According to My Modern Met, judges received entries from more than 119 countries and created a shortlist of 22 stunning images. The annual contest, held by the Royal Meteorological Society, celebrates weather of all forms, from whimsical rainbows to chaotic lightning storms and phenomenon in between.

Below are the eight winners this year. Believe it or not, some pictures were even taken with a smartphone.


Main winner: "Storm Eunice" by Christopher Ison

Photo location: Newhaven, East Sussex, U.K.

Camera: Canon EOS R5

storm eunice

"Storm Eunice"

www.rmets.org

Ison’s bold, dramatic, almost monochromatic image comes as a result of Storm Eunice, an intense cyclone that wreaked havoc in the U.K. in February. Its 122 mph wind speeds set a new record in England.

Needless to say, getting the photo successfully (and safely) would not be easy. Ison chose to head to high ground and stand slightly further away from the harbor wall. With his back to the weather, he snapped the image.

"When the storm was predicted and that it was carrying the first ever red warning for the south coast, I knew I had to find a spot to record it – this was going to be big!" Ison shared.

2nd place: "Frozen" by Zhenhuan Zhou

Photo location: Ontario, Canada

Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark IV

niagara falls

"Frozen"

www.rmets.org

Photographer Zhenhuan Zhou perfectly captured the mystical essence of a frozen Niagara Falls in winter. Extreme low temperatures cause sheets of ice to form over the water’s surface, giving the illusion that the Falls have completely stopped, when in reality water continues to flow underneath.

The cold imagery is balanced out by the warm glow of a single light emanating from a cozy cabin, which clearly belongs to some kind of winter fairy.

3rd place: "Ghost Under the Cliff" by Emili Vilamala Benito

Photo location: Tavertet, Barcelona, Spain

Camera: Sony SLT-A99V

Brocken spectre

"Ghost Under The Cliff"

www.rmets.org

The shadowy figure shrouded in a rainbow seen in Emili Benito’s photograph is called a Brocken Spectre—an optical illusion that occurs when the observer’s shadow is magnified as it’s cast onto a cloud or mist.

The Brocken Spectre is a type of glory. Glories are often seen by air travelers, who notice the shadow of their airplane cast on clouds below. The airplane’s shadow will be moving along on the cloud tops, surrounded by a rainbow-like halo of light as it flies through the air.

Public vote winner: "Departing Storm Over Bembridge Lifeboat Station" by Jamie Russell

Photo location: Bembridge, Isle of Wight, U.K.

Camera: Nikon d7500, Sigma 10-20 lens

double rainbows

"Departing Storm Over Bembridge Lifeboat Station"

www.rmets.org

Photographer Jamie Russell has apparently been chasing storms all across the Isle of Wight, capturing gorgeous rainbows. But the one found after a show in Bembridge was the ultimate prize, causing him to rush into “waist-deep water, fully dressed” to compose this image.

This double rainbow comes as a result of sunlight being refracted twice within a raindrop. A key characteristic of the “second bow” is a fainter hue and reversed color sequence.

Mobile category winner: "Sunset" by Aung Chan Thar

Photo location: Kyaikto, Myanmar

Camera: Vivo X70 pro+

Myanmar sunset, sunset photography

"Sunset"

www.rmets.org

This one’s a delight to weather enthusiasts and architecture buffs alike.

The richness of the sunset happens because of Rayleigh scattering, aka nature’s Instagram filter. When the sun is very low (as in sunrise and sunset), its light has to travel further through the atmosphere. Blue light, which is shorter in wavelength than red light, is therefore scattered away and deflected before our eyes can see it. The longer wavelengths of orange and red light are scattered less, and therefore more visible. Not to mention gorgeous.

Mobile category runner-up: "Scotch Mist" by Vince Campbell

Photo location: Tarbet, Loch Lomond, Scotland

Camera: Samsung SM-J530f 3.71mm

scotland photography

"Scotch Mist"

www.rmets.org

I knew that smartphones could take some pretty epic pictures, but I didn’t know they could be this epic.

Photographer Vince Campbell was up before the sun and walking with his dogs Oscar and Ollie to capture this beautiful misty scene.

This is a “misty” scene, rather than a “foggy” one, because of the visibility. Mist and fog are both caused by water droplets suspended in the air close to the ground. Mist is less dense and dissipates more quickly. The rule of thumb is—if you can see more than 1,000 meters (in the pictures, for example, you can see all the way across the lake), then it’s mist. If you can’t see past 1,000 meters, it’s fog.

Young Weather Photographer of the Year winner: "Mammatus Sunset" by Eris Pil

Photo location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.

Camera: Pixel 3 Phone

Mammatus clouds

"Mammatus Sunset"

www.rmets.org

"The sky was completely lit up in a way I had never seen before, like these beautiful backlit watercolor clouds,” recalled Young Photographer of the Year Eris Pil.

What looks like a Van Gogh painting in the photo are mammatus clouds, which, despite their fluffy, pleasant seeming demeanor, are created under tumultuous conditions. Often, but not always, they are sweet-looking harbingers of severe thunderstorms and even tornados. But hey, they’re nice to look at.

Pil shared that this photo was her “first time ever witnessing” mammatus clouds, and that she hopes for the “opportunity to see them again.”

Young Weather Photographer of the Year runner-up: "Tyndall Effect" by Shreya Nair

Photo location: Trivandrum, India

Camera: Redmi Note 9 Pro

light beams photo

"Tyndal Effect"

www.rmets.org

Photographer Shreya Nair was taking a walk through their backyard in India when they spotted light peaking through the tree canopy.

This heavenly effect is known as the Tyndall effect. Similar to a Rayleigh scattering, the Tyndall effect is a scattering of beams of light that attach to floating particles like smoke or dust. Again, because blue and red light have different wavelengths, they are affected differently during this weather phenomenon. The Tyndall effect is why the sky appears blue.

Wanna bask in beautiful weather year-round from the comfort of your own home? The Weather Photographer of the Year 2023 calendar is available on pre-order.

A young woman drinking bottled water outdoors before exercising.



The Story of Bottled Waterwww.youtube.com

Here are six facts from the video above by The Story of Stuff Project that I'll definitely remember next time I'm tempted to buy bottled water.

1. Bottled water is more expensive than tap water (and not just a little).

via The Story of Stuff Project/YouTube


A Business Insider column noted that two-thirds of the bottled water sold in the United States is in individual 16.9-ounce bottles, which comes out to roughly $7.50 per gallon. That's about 2,000 times higher than the cost of a gallon of tap water.

And in an article in 20 Something Finance, G.E. Miller investigated the cost of bottled versus tap water for himself. He found that he could fill 4,787 20-ounce bottles with tap water for only $2.10! So if he paid $1 for a bottled water, he'd be paying 2,279 times the cost of tap.

2. Bottled water could potentially be of lower quality than tap water.

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This development flies in the face of public opinion on the topic. A recent poll found that 88% of Americans wish they had been taught financial literacy in school. The same number said their state should require either a semester or year-long personal finance course for graduation.

A teacher in Charlotte, North Carolina, has taken that problem to heart and is giving her 3rd-grade class rigorous, hands-on lessons on the importance of personal finance.

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Joy

A 9-yr-old cheerleader’s veteran dad couldn't help with her routine, so a high schooler ran to her side

Sensing something was wrong, he sprang to action with many witnessing his kind act.

Images from YouTube video.

Addie Rodriguez does her cheer.

Addie Rodriguez was supposed to take the field with her dad during a high school football game, where he, along with other dads, would lift her onto his shoulders for a routine. But Addie's dad was halfway across the country, unable to make the event.

Her father is Abel Rodriguez, a veteran airman who, after tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, was training at Travis Air Force Base in California, 1,700 miles from his family in San Antonio at the time.

"Mom missed the memo it was parent day, and the reason her mom missed the memo was her dad left Wednesday," said Alexis Perry-Rodriguez, Addie's mom. She continued, "It was really heartbreaking to see your daughter standing out there being the only one without their father, knowing why he's away. It's not just an absentee parent. He's serving our country."

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Elmo did a well-being check-in with everyone and unintentionally opened the floodgates

The response was massive, and Sesame Street's follow-up was perfection.

Elmo's check-in brought out thousands of emotional responses.

Few things evoke a visceral comfort response in people of all ages like the colorful characters of Sesame Street. Millions of us grew up with Elmo, Big Bird, Bert & Ernie, Grover, Oscar the Grouch and the rest, and have nothing but warm, positive memories associated with them.

So when Elmo asked all the grownups on X to how they were doing, it triggered a deluge that spoke to people's need to share their mental and emotional struggles as well as the safe place Sesame Street has been for generations.

It all began with a simple question: "Elmo is just checking in! How is everybody doing?"

Elmo surely did not expect thousands upon thousands of people to dump their emotional loads on him like they were in a therapy session, but that's exactly what happened.

Not only did people respond that they were tired—a common refrain—but they also shared about the deaths of loved ones, their relationship struggles, jobs they'd been laid off from, their feelings of despair and depression. Clearly, some people needed a place to put their woes, and who better to receive them than a beloved childhood character who we know understands and accepts us unconditionally?

To Sesame Street's credit, they handled the trauma dump as best a fictional world filled with fictional characters possibly could. After the initial post's impact, Elmo posted, "Wow! Elmo is glad he asked! Elmo learned that it is important to ask a friend how they are doing. Elmo will check in again soon, friends! Elmo loves you." Elmo added the hashtag #EmotionalWellBeing.

And then the other Sesame Street characters started chiming in.

One by one, all perfectly in character, the Sesame Street crew showed up on their respective accounts to offer their support, all using the #EmotionalWellBeing hashtag.

"I'm here if you ever need a shoulder to lean on. I'll make us both a warm cup of tea," wrote Bert.

"If you need some cheering up, let me know! I love making others smile," wrote Ernie.

"Me here to talk it out whenever you want. Me will also supply cookies," wrote Cookie Monster.

"I, Grover, am here to be a good listener whenever you need it," wrote Grover.

Even Oscar the Grouch weighed in with some honesty and support. "I'm not great at listening to other share their big feelings, but my worm Slimey is. You should talk with him if you ever need to chat."

Yes, it's silly. But it's also not, because Sesame Street truly has been a lifeline for countless kids who found solace, support and celebration of themselves in those beloved characters, sometimes even more than they found at home.

The main Sesame Street account also shared a link to mental health resources.

But the wave of support and words of kindness and understanding didn't stay confined to Sesame Street. All kinds of big accounts, from NASA and the United Nations to Xbox and Verizon—even the President of the United States himself—weighed in with gratitude for Elmo checking in and reminders that we're all making our way through this life together.

Does it get more wholesome than NASA reminding us we're made of stardust?

The entire phenomenon was a testament to the enduring influence of Sesame Street, but also a good reminder to check in with people once in a while. You never know who might need to offload some emotional weight, and as cathartic as it might feel to drop it all on a beloved icon like Elmo, nothing compares to a real-life friend who offers a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on.

Thank you for the inspiration, Sesame Street creators. Still managing to nurture the children within us, all these years later.

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The dropping birthrate has many worried that it will upend government programs because there won’t be enough young people to work and pay taxes to support older people on Social Security and Medicare.

Faith Hill from The Atlantic recently illustrated another problem with the declining birthrate in the U.S. and Europe that no one talks about: the decline of cousins.

“If everyone hypothetically went from having five kids to having four kids, that would mean one less sibling for each child,” Hill wrote, quoting demographer Sha Jiang. “But it would yield a much bigger decrease in first cousins: Instead of a child having four aunts or uncles who each have five kids—20 cousins—they would have three aunts or uncles who each have four kids, for a total of 12.”

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George Biard/Wikipedia,Paramount Pictures/Wikipedia

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