NASA just wrapped up its first installment of the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) Extreme Weather Photo competition, announcing the top 5 images and the stories behind them.

The photographers range from storm chasers and journalists to professors and photography students. Despite different experience levels among the photographers, each of the captivating images shows the beauty in extreme weather. Though the images below were considered the best of the entry, NASA will send bags and GPM stickers to everyone who submitted an image.

The GPM mission is an international collection of satellites which aims to better predict extreme weather trends and impending natural disasters through a more thorough measurement of global precipitation.

Check out NASA's top 5 images plus stories of how the photographers captured these shots. Images and captions courtesy of NASA.

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  • NASA Extreme Weather Photo Contest Winners

    (<a href="http://pmm.nasa.gov/articles/extreme-weather-photo-contest-winners" target="_hplink">Jason Weingart / NASA</a>) "I have shot many storms from the same spot this photo was taken, and I almost drove by to get a different vantage point, but something told me to just stop at my spot. I jumped out of my car and ran down to the beach. To my surprise, there were still several beach-goers taking in the sight of this massive shelf cloud, as well as a few surfers in the water, trying to catch one last wave. Of course, there was a Volusia County lifeguard standing there watching over everyone. I walked down to the water and took some shots, always keeping an eye on the lifeguard. As the shelf cloud approached, I swung back behind the guard tower, waited for him to climb up it and signal to the surfers to exit the water. I took several shots, then hopped back in my car and tried to stay south of the storm."

  • NASA Extreme Weather Photo Contest Winners

    (<a href="http://pmm.nasa.gov/articles/extreme-weather-photo-contest-winners" target="_hplink">Grant Petty / NASA</a>) "I was out on a farm with a photography club for the purpose of photographing farm life -- animals, barns, etc. I saw this impressive thunderstorm building several miles to the east of where we were and ended up focusing on that while the others in the group continued to follow the goats and horses around. This is one of many examples of how a completely unplanned photo wound up being among my best photos."

  • NASA Extreme Weather Photo Contest Winners

    (<a href="http://pmm.nasa.gov/articles/extreme-weather-photo-contest-winners" target="_hplink">Meggan Wood / NASA</a>) "I saw the wall of dust coming and quickly drove to the wash to get a good wide-open view of the height of the dust looming over the houses. I barely had time to get back to my car before it hit and I was engulfed! The darkness was surprising but it only lasted about 10-15 minutes before it thinned out enough to where I could drive back home, only about 2 minutes away. This was the giant haboob that made national news when it rolled through and entirely covered all of Phoenix and some surrounding cities."

  • NASA Extreme Weather Photo Contest Winners

    (<a href="http://pmm.nasa.gov/articles/extreme-weather-photo-contest-winners" target="_hplink">Brian Allen / NASA</a>) "Unfortunately, not a terribly cool story -- I just happen to have an apartment with an amazing view of the city. The storm that blew through started off with an incredible amount of lightning and then dumped a significant amount of rain in a short amount of time -- on the other side of the river. DC got drenched and Arlington didn't see a drop."

  • NASA Extreme Weather Photo Contest Winners

    (<a href="http://pmm.nasa.gov/articles/extreme-weather-photo-contest-winners" target="_hplink">Brian Johnson / NASA</a>) "The National Weather Service had warned about a large scale Derecho forming and moving through. This spawned a couple brief severe thunderstorms that dumped hail on rush hour traffic before the main line moved in. As the bigger storm moved into the Wichita area, reports were coming in of 70 mph winds and hail. There is an open farm field roughly two miles from my house that I shot lightning on the previous night. I sat there for about 20 minutes before this large squall line pushed through the clouds. I was hit with a pretty good gust front as it got closer, but as the winds increased, I decided to get to shelter. This photo was one of the last ones I took."

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