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Shelf Clouds ~ Just for Fun

Kim Johnson is continuing her Just for Fun Week 2 challenge. The sky is the subject.

I captured this photo today while out for a drive. I had never seen a cloud like this one. This dark grey band was all across the sky, as far as I could see. We are suppose to get rain later. I emailed our local meteorologist to find out what the technical name for the cloud was. She responded and said it looked like a shelf cloud. A shelf cloud is a low-hanging, well defined, wedge shaped formation that occurs along the leading edge of a gust front in a thunderstorm. Shelf clouds most often form just ahead of intense lines of thunderstorms.

This makes complete sense due to the weather forecast of rain. Just sharing something different! Remember to always look up when you are outside. You never know what you might see.


What do you think?

21 points

Written by Carol DM

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  1. Awe I love this photograph and cool cloud formation. I would beg to differ with you meteorologist. I know this sounds odd, but I have studied this in depth. What you caught was called a roll cloud. The roll cloud and the shelf could are both Arcus Clouds, the difference is, is that a roll cloud is detached from the main storm like the one you have shown, and the roll cloud is detached from the main storm. See how the cloud gets lighter at the back of the storm? It is detached. Love the photo and thank you for posting.

    • Boy, I sort of messed that comment up. Let’s try again. I would beg to differ with youR weather person. I know it sounds odd to argue with a pro, but I have studied these patterns and maybe they didn’t look at the photo well. Who knows. This is a roll cloud, not a shelf cloud. Both are Arcus Cloud patterns. The shelf cloud is attached to the main storm while the roll cloud is detached.

      • I also researched this after getting her email and found the difference in a shelf and roll and this is what I found… A shelf cloud, also known as an arcus or arc cloud, may be the most frequently submitted cloud photo to our photo gallery and Facebook page. Based on their appearance, we certainly understand why. A more rare variety of this type of cloud, a roll cloud, resembles a giant rolling pin in the sky. The first two photos in the slideshow from Lake Hendricks, Minnesota, on June 20, 2015, show a terrific example of a roll cloud. To understand how roll clouds form, we first must explain how shelf clouds develop. Shelf clouds are typically seen at the leading edge of a thunderstorm or squall line of thunderstorms. While menacing in appearance, shelf clouds are not tornadoes or wall clouds.

  2. I search for the sky everytime I go out of the house and especially when I am on the beach. But I suppose looking up should not be done while crossing the street, right? ?? Just teasing — interesting trivia — maybe the shelf cloud is where the rainwater are shelved? ?


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