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Shelf Clouds 

shelf clouds
shelf clouds

A video circulating on social media that showcases a captivating shelf cloud formation during the monsoon in Haridwar.

Shelf Clouds (Arcus Clouds)

  • It is a low-hanging cloud that appears to be attached to the front of a storm.
  • It is often dark and ominous, and it can give the impression that the storm is moving in quickly.
  • These clouds are sometimes seen beneath cumulonimbus clouds, the dense, towering vertical cloud that causes intense rain.

Formation of Shelf Clouds

  • These are formed when a thunderstorm pushes a gust of wind ahead of it.
  • This gust of wind can be so strong that it lifts the warm, moist air in front of it.
  • As the warm air rises, it cools and condenses into a cloud, which becomes the shelf cloud.
  • The shelf cloud is often accompanied by a strong gust of wind, which can be dangerous to those caught in its path.
  • This rush of cold air often occurs in a thunderstorm’s downdraught, where cold air rushes towards the ground before spreading out to create a gust front.
    • A thunderstorm is a rain shower during which you hear thunder. Since thunder comes from lightning, all thunderstorms have lightning.

Distinctive Features

  • These have a distinct horizontal appearance (Roll Cloud), stretching across the sky in a straight line.
  • They often take on a wedge-like or arc-shaped structure, curving upward toward the storm’s main cloud base.
  • These have a well-defined, solid line separating the cloud formation from the sky.

Impact / Indication of Shelf Cloud
  • It is often a sign of severe weather, which can cause damage to structures, power lines, and other infrastructure.
  • The storm that follows the shelf cloud can also produce heavy rain, hail, and even tornadoes, which can cause flooding, landslides, and other hazards.

  • In India, Arcus clouds formation is rare phenomenon.
  • However, they are seen around the world routinely in places such as Australia, Alaska, California, etc., during powerful thunderstorms.

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