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Snow Tornado (2017)

Divide Mountain, Montana

What you are looking at here is a photograph including a spindrift whirlwind (like a 'dust devil' or real tornado, this is simply a vertically oriented rotating column of wind).  Mountaineers call it spin-drift, for the spin, of course, and I have witnessed this amazing phenomenon many times while climbing and adventuring in the high mountains.  I was outrageously lucky to capture this here, however, because both lighting and background had to be perfect to see the rotation and depth as it spun by.  Winds that morning gusted to over 70mph, so I had to act extremely fast as well and would have never managed it if not for a member of my party shouting 'tornado!' and me already shooting the wide angle lens in the exact spot in line with the sun.  I fired off about 3 good shots, only one of which showed the clear, circular rotation.  I consider it the rarest photograph of my entire career.  The person was included for scale only. Photo © copyright by Marc Adamus.

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