Incredible "supercell" storm clouds loom menacingly above the plains of Texas

Few people realize that storms and clouds are often categorized into a variety of taxonomies — including families, genera, and even species — not unlike like plants and animals. Last Thursday, American photographer Mitch Dobrowner was named the 2012 Sony World Photography Awards Photographer of the Year, in recognition of a remarkable series of images entitled "Storms," which captures these various phenomena on film.

Featured up top is an example of one of the many stunning cloud and storm varieties photographed by Dobrowner during the course of his survey of America's vast southern plains [click here for hi-res]; according to New Scientist's Caroline Morley, it's what meteorologists call a supercell thunderstorm:

[Supercells] are formed when updrafts create convective rotating movements within a cloud. Supercells are associated with severe weather such as tornadoes, which are common in Texas and other southern US states and cause widespread damage.

You'll find the entire collection, along with several others, on Dobrowner's website. [World Photography Organization via New Scientist]