‘Once you’ve seen a tornado drop from the sky, or watched a powerful storm form, you’re humbled.’Photographer Eric Meola is telling MailOnline Travel how it feels to be in the presence of an epic, angry weather system – something he’s experienced many times during his quite remarkable career.Meola has spent four decades photographing storms on America’s Great Plains and has produced a sensational body of work from his trips. And lucky us, some of his very best efforts have been committed to print.
They were taken between 1977 and 2019 in America’s heartland west of the 98th meridian and east of the Rockies – including the infamous Tornado Alley – where atmospheric instability collides with moisture from the Gulf of Mexico and spectacular cumulonimbus clouds form.Over several years he documented a landscape of elemental forces, where immense storms percolate miles above the ground, rotating with energy until tornadoes spin on the horizon.And he discovered a country of haunting beauty where the wail of coyotes and the glow of constellations fill the prairie’s void.
He continues: ‘Being in the presence of nature at its most powerful feels like being present at the creation of the Earth. For most people, it’s the most incredible connection with Nature that you will ever have. It’s elemental, it’s pure, it’s powerful, and it seemingly comes out of nowhere — it’s the most spellbinding thing you will ever experience.’
Meola became transfixed by storms during a 1977 road trip across Nevada to photograph artwork for musician Bruce Springsteen.While driving in the desert they encountered a violent storm and Meola took several incredible pictures of it, one of which was used as the cover image for Springsteen’s album The Promise.Springsteen said of the photographs Meola took: ‘Eric caught some great pictures but what he really captured was something in the sky and in the lay of the land that deeply revealed the grandeur and character of the country.’The storm experience also yielded something else – it inspired the singer’s lyrics for the 1978 single The Promised Land.