Nick Ulivieri was 5 or 6 at the time, growing up in Brookfield, but he still recalls scrambling inside at the sound of a tornado warning as his mother remained out back, eyes on the sky. “She always loved to watch storms,” he says. “I just remember being terrified.”

These days, Ulivieri is usually running toward bad weather, or at least toward a better vantage point from which to observe it. Over the past five years, the professional photographer, 31, has made extreme weather a specialty, capturing Chicago in the grasp of nature’s fiercest forces. “After I caught my first few lightning bolts, I was pretty addicted,” he says.

The University Village resident has shot from friends’ balconies, from the top of the John Hancock Center and Willis Tower, and even from a helicopter, producing spellbinding images of a mighty city at the mercy of the elements. Here are eight of his favorites, with the story behind each.