Kansas photographers land prominent spots in 2012 weather calendar

When he’s not on duty as a meteorologist at the Dodge City branch of the National Weather Service, Mike Umscheid likes to go storm chasing. He’s captured enough tornadoes and other picturesque storms with his camera to be featured more than once in recent years in the annual weather calendar printed by Accord Publishing out of Denver.

It’s a meaty calendar, packed with climate data, articles about issues and developments related to the weather, and striking weather photography. I watch for it every year.

The 2012 calendar features Umscheid’s photo of a tornado in southern Colorado on May 31, 2010.

“Making the cover was pretty sweet,” Umscheid said. “That was a heck of a tornado.”

Umscheid gained a measure of notoriety – and a meeting with President Bush – when he issued the first-ever “tornado emergency” for Greensburg as a massive wedge-shaped twister bore down on the small Kansas town on May 4, 2007. The EF5 tornado, which was 1.7 miles wide, damaged or destroyed 95 percent of Greensburg. Eleven people were killed and at least 60 injured.

Umscheid has created his own website featuring photos shot on storm chases.

“They use a lot of storm chaser stuff” in the calendar, he said.

Indeed, Roeland Park photographer and storm chaser Stephen Locke has two lightning photos featured in the calendar – including the main January shot, taken near Salina in 2010. I’ve featured Locke on this blog in the past.

Locke’s second lightning photo featured in the calendar was taken near Sedan in southeast Kansas in 2009. It’s a vivid, compelling shot that illustrates the complexity of strong thunderstorms.

I also noticed a couple of prominently featured photographs by storm chaser Roger Hill, whom I met in 2000 while following a storm chase tour around Tornado Alley for a story. There are also photos taken by National Geographic photographer and storm chaser Mike Theiss, who I know through Wichita-based photographer and storm chaser Jim Reed.

Look for the calendar at book stores and calendar shops near you.