Tornadoes aren't often seen high in the mountains, in part because peaks break up weather systems, and in part because no one's there to observe them. So it's fortuitous that registered storm-spotter Chris Kirby happened to be driving near Mount Evans, Colo., on Saturday when the second-highest twister ever recorded in the US touched down there. "The funnel briefly touched down on a ridge, just enough to be deemed a tornado," Kirby tells OurAmazingPlanet. "I'm blessed to have seen such an extremely rare phenomenon."
Kirby snapped a photo (click to see) and sent it to the National Weather Service, which determined that it had made landfall at 11,900 feet, putting it just behind the No. 1 record holder, which clocked in at 12,000 feet in 2004 in California. The tornado caused no damage. It was a rare breed of twister formed by an updraft of air, which, while picturesque, tends not to be very powerful. (Read more tornado stories.)