Phenomena

Shelf Cloud

Sydney, Australia was treated to a spectacular meteorological show over the weekend when an impressive shelf cloud swept over the city. These timelapses show the dramatic leading edge of the incoming thunderstorm. Notice how the cloud streams upward along the shelf. The storm is driven by this updraft of warm moist air, which rises until it is capped by the troposphere. At this point, the air spreads, creating an anvil-like shape, and cools. The moisture drawn up at the storm’s front will condense, freeze, and fall as rain or hail. When the updraft weakens, the storm will be dominated by the downdraft of the falling precipitation and eventually peter out. (Image credit: W. Reed and H. Vann, source; via J. Hertzberg)

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