Photographer Mike Olbinski chases storms throughout his native Arizona and further afield, capturing lightning, tornadoes and dramatic cloud formations in images that convey the awesome power and beauty of nature. A new book, Storm Chaser, gathers 100 of his most breathtaking images. He says he had always been interested in storms and would travel thousands of miles every year, chasing the big supercells and tornadoes that appear on the central plains of the United States each spring.

Storm Chaser Mike Olbinski
A deadly tornado touches down near the town of Wynnewood, OklahomaMike Olbinski

"But in 2011 my life changed," he says, "On 5 July I received a text with a photo of a dust storm rolling into the Phoenix area from the southeast. The day before I had just started practising time lapse photography and when I heard about a dust storm heading my way, I grabbed my gear and headed to a parking garage down the street. I thought that a time-lapse of a dust storm over the city would really give people an idea of how large these things can be.

"As I pulled up to the top of the parking garage, my jaw dropped. The sky before me was unlike anything I'd ever seen. A massive wall of dust was headed my way. Not the normal dust storms you tend to see out here. No, this was like the end of the world. The wall was dense, thick and as tall as the clouds. It looked like a scene from the movie Independence Day. The National Weather Service would later say it was over 100 miles wide and a mile high."

Storm Chaser Mike Olbinski
The Phoenix haboob of 5 July 2011Mike Olbinski

"When I got home that night, I put the time-lapse together and posted it on Vimeo. Within a few hours of posting, the video went viral and by that night it was all over the United States – I was even woken up at 5am the next morning by calls from CNN and The Weather Channel. I did interviews with local stations that day and within 36 hours, it was being shared around the world. I remember getting a call from a teacher in the Philippines asking it if it was okay to share the video in her classroom. The most amazing moment though for me was the day when I received a phone call from Al Gore's office, asking if they could use the footage in their climate change presentations. I was absolutely blown away.

"Since then," he says, "my fine art photography and time-lapse work have been seen in countless magazines, productions, commercials, documentaries, movies and many other places. A few years later, a time-lapse I shot of a supercell in Texas even ended up in the movie Thor: The Dark World. That dust storm I photographed on 5 July didn't just get me on the Weather Channel. It propelled my life in a direction that I could only have dreamed about. I'm now a full-time photographer and split my time between shooting weddings and chasing storms."

IBTimes UK presents just a few of the 100 amazing images in the book Storm Chaser by Mike Olbinksi, published by Pen & Sword Books.

Storm Chaser Mike Olbinski
On a long, lonely highway between Merriman and Hyannis, Nebraska... a huge series of thunderstorms moves by, leaving behind it wet roads and a gorgeous sky filled with mammatus clouds. A bit of lightning snakes around on the left side of the stormMike Olbinski
Storm Chaser Mike Olbinski
A blast of lightning over a 10-second period illuminates the iconic Superstition Mountains, east of Phoenix, ArizonaMike Olbinski
Storm Chaser Mike Olbinski
A stunning supercell spins west of Rapid City, South Dakota, barely moving more than a few miles over the course of an hourMike Olbinski
Storm Chaser Mike Olbinski
A very, very close lightning bolt strikes southeast of Silver City, NM. The right bolt has a grouping of upward streaming leaders, or lightning from the ground, surrounding itMike Olbinski
Storm Chaser Mike Olbinski
A destructive, but beautiful, tornado moves down the road near Wynnewood, OklahomaMike Olbinski
Storm Chaser Mike Olbinski
A stormy sunset over the Grand Canyon. The photographer says: 'I've been to the Grand Canyon over a dozen times now, but never before have I seen a sunset on fire like this. I went up there with hopes of storms and lightning after dark, but that's almost an impossible ask when you just randomly pick a day to try. But at least I was treated to this amazing sky'Mike Olbinski
Storm Chaser Mike Olbinski
A dying supercell draped in otherworldly colours moves southeast across western Texas. The photographer says: 'On this night, with the wind, the colours, the lightning... it felt like we were watching the end of the world or something'Mike Olbinski
Storm Chaser Mike Olbinski
A beast of a supercell moves across the road south of Lamar, Colorado. The photographer says: 'We had raced north as the rain began to hit us, and we stopped after a few miles to take in the view of this incredible storm and that stunning blue-green hail core'Mike Olbinski
Storm Chaser Mike Olbinski
An angry supercell spins north of McLean, Texas. The photographer says: 'This supercell north of Interstate 40 had some nasty rotation on radar which you can see up ahead over the middle of the road. A possible tornado was in there but no one ever saw it'Mike Olbinski
Storm Chaser Mike Olbinski
An enormous amount of lightning strikes hit the area just south of Casa Grande, including Arizona City and the Tohono O'odham Nation. This image is made up of about 30 separate photographs all stacked to show the amount of lightning that can hit in the same general area over about 26 minutesMike Olbinski
Storm Chaser Mike Olbinski
An intense lightning strike consisting of four bolts hits the ground south of Highway 74 near the town of Whittmann. Captured with a 16mm on a full frame, you can see how close the bolts actually were! A spectacular night of shootingMike Olbinski
Storm Chaser Mike Olbinski
An intense lightning bolt flies in from the south side of Interstate 10 near 339th Avenue and slams into the desert just off the north side of the freeway. This is a composite of two images just to get a full set of light trailsMike Olbinski
Storm Chaser Mike Olbinski
A gorgeous shelf cloud with lightning near Leoti, KansasMike Olbinski
Storm Chaser Mike Olbinski
A lightning bolt travels down the rain shaft of a thunderstorm near Camp Verde, Arizona. The photographer says: 'I definitely have a nerdy side and when I had finished editing this image, I could only think of one thing: "Beam me up, Scotty!"'Mike Olbinski
Storm Chaser Mike Olbinski
A heavy curtain of mammatus clouds hangs over the Texas panhandle. A lightning strike weaves its way through the bubbles in the skyMike Olbinski
Storm Chaser Mike Olbinski
A supercell near Booker, Texas, which the photographer say: "was one of the most amazing sights I have ever seen"Mike Olbinski
Storm Chaser Mike Olbinski
A sunset, a lightning strike and a rainbow. What more could you ask for? Beautiful storm, and beautiful colours over Tucson in mid-AugustMike Olbinski
Storm Chaser Mike Olbinski
A brilliant, dusty coloured sunset out over Interstate 10 on the Sunshine Road overpassMike Olbinski
Storm Chaser Mike Olbinski
A lightning bolt lands in the middle of the city of Tucson during the summer monsoonsMike Olbinski
Storm Chaser Mike Olbinski
Purple Rain: A lightning strike illuminates the falling rain in a purple hue, while the city of Phoenix in the background gives another, pale colourMike Olbinski

Storm Chaser by Mike Olbinksi, is published by Pen & Sword Books and is available at Amazon and good book shops.