News Outdoor Photographer Weather Band Content Clouds Photo Contest Photography

Cotton Candy Dreams and a Lone Texas Supercell

  • By Jessica Moore
  • Aug 17, 2023

"Blue Hour Twisted Dreams" Photo by Jessica Moore

“Twisted Dreams” by Jessica Moore – Captured May 16th, 2021

“Twisted Dreams” by Jessica Moore – Captured May 16th, 2021

While pouring over the weather models on the morning of May 16th, 2021, I noted the position of an upper-level low in the southwestern US promoting southwesterly flow in the upper atmosphere, while upslope flow looked to increase out of the east and southeast progressively throughout the day. There was also notable instability increasing beneath a stout capping inversion, but questions remained regarding whether that strong lid would prevent storms from firing later that afternoon. Would the instability be sufficient to overcome the suppression of the warmer air just above the surface? The quality and depth of moisture was questionable as well. 

I analyzed various aspects of the mesoscale environment while watching satellite imagery in real-time and liked the prospect of an isolated supercell or two forming off of the dryline later that afternoon in the western Texas Panhandle. The setup was not a “slam dunk” for severe weather by any means; however, I’ll always jump on the chance for an isolated storm spinning peacefully over the vast prairie. In fact, that’s the storm photographer’s dream scenario. 

I began the day’s chase just west of Amarillo, just south of the town of Vega, and watched a few updrafts struggle against the cap and inevitably collapse. My confidence in the day’s severe threat began to dwindle until I glanced at Radarscope and noticed an isolated storm forming near Sudan, an hour to my south. It developed and intensified quickly, and as I wrestled with whether I could catch up with the storm in time, tornado reports began to surface. That was all the motivation I needed to make my way toward the storm, albeit I worried I’d miss everything by the time I arrived.

As I moved in from the north toward the storm, the sun sank lower and lower toward the horizon. A knot formed in my chest: I’d never make it. I was losing light, and quickly. But just as my spirits began to sink with the setting sun, I saw it: one of the most beautiful supercells I’ve ever seen. It was the perfect spiraling low precipitation supercell bathed in serene golden hour light and I was overflowing with excitement and awe. I found the perfect spot to set up my tripod directly in the path of the storm so that I could watch it spin elegantly toward me. As the sun dipped below the horizon, the entire anvil began to glow a vibrant pink while the updraft took on a subtle lavender hue, and I could not believe my eyes. I’ve never seen such a colorful storm in 12 years of storm chasing. 

I was struck with utter bewilderment and awe. It was a profound moment of reckoning and true understanding of my purpose in life as I fired away with my camera.

I was exactly where I was supposed to be.


I am a meteorologist, travel writer, and professional photographer in Colorado where I was born and raised. The dramatic weather extremes that I experienced growing up sparked my fascination with the atmosphere, which led to my pursuing meteorology at Mississippi State University and graduating from their Broadcast and Operational Meteorology program in 2020. I have also simultaneously been chasing and photographing storms for the last 12 years, and feel a calling to capture the rarest, most beautiful, and most powerful storms on the planet so that I can share those moments with the world. My artistic mission is to show the beauty in the storms that so many fear, in the hopes that by doing so, it can offer another perspective that garners a sense of awe and wonder for the skies above.

My images and videos have been sought after by commercial clients across the world, and have also been aired on most national networks in the U.S. I’ve been fortunate to have many opportunities to showcase my storm images in prestigious art exhibitions around the world as well, including Art Basel in Miami, among others. I’m grateful for any opportunity to share my art – and the beauty of our atmosphere – with the world.