Wednesday, July 13, 2016

A Different Spin on Vorticity

"Vorticity" is the name of the latest video from Phoenix-based photographer Mike Olbinski. I've featured Mike's work in a past blog post on the southwestern monsoon.

This film  is a time-lapse summary of many of the features Olbinski photographed this spring while chasing weather for 18 days and 20,000 miles over a period of two months. He records many "spinning" features in the atmosphere: rotating mesocyclones, roll clouds, tornadoes, downpours, dust, and churning skies. The film is dramatic and awe-inspiring, and the music by Kerry Muzzey gives the film an epic feel.

                                       Vorticity (4K) from Mike Olbinski on Vimeo.

If you have a good Internet connection be sure to view this in full screen HD. I've viewed this several times already and each time I see something new I didn't notice before.

You can see some more of Mike's work (including Monsoon II) at

As for the title of the film, vorticity is a clockwise or counterclockwise spin in the troposphere. We typically look at vorticity at the 500 millibar level, which is about 20,000 feet. If you have followed this blog you have seen vorticity depicted on some of the 500 millibar maps I've included, like this one. The orange and yellow shading depict areas of vorticity, spinning that produces upward motion, and thus usually clouds and precipitation.

500 millibar showing areas of vorticity

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