Photography: Tornado or Shelf Cloud?
I was driving home from a soccer game yesterday afternoon as the sky began to darken to the west. As I drove over the mixing bowl, I got a good view of an impressive thunderstorm. As I continued west a few miles I took the above photo from 495. It appears to be a funnel cloud, but looks can be deceiving.
Keep reading for more photos that give a better view of the cloud type and the storm. See Brian's full forecast for the outlook into early next week.
Shelf clouds form with a gust front ahead of a thunderstorm. They are usually caused by downdrafts from a thunderstorm and typically proceed the heavy rain. The first photo in this post was taken as I drove under the shelf cloud with the camera pointed parallel with the shelf cloud, giving an illusion of a funnel cloud. The second and third photos were taken as I approached the shelf cloud. I suppose I should note that I was careful to watch the road, not the camera, and I just snapped a few shots in the general direction of the storm. Wide angle lenses and automatic exposures help.
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