Friday, July 29, 2016

What makes a shelf cloud?!

We had some very strong storms move across Kansas and thanks to many of you, we received a bunch of great photos of the shelf cloud. Such a beautiful and impressive cloud feature. But what makes a shelf cloud look the way that it does?
courtesy Nicole Smith - Derby
Take a look. We received this picture from Nicole Smith as the storm entered Derby. From a side view, it's easier to illustrate what the wind is doing to create such a dramatic feature. Warm, moist air gets forced up into the storm. Because cooler air is more dense, it descends to the ground and continues to force the warmer air up into the storm. But within the rain-cooled air, you can get some very strong winds. In this case, the worst is usually first, and then comes the rain. Thursday night, we had wind gusts over 80 mph, power outages, and lots of branches down.

courtesy T.W. Anderson (in a holding pattern above Wichita)
courtesy Tim Ulmen - Wichita
Rainfall totals from yesterday and early Friday morning:

Smith Center: 2.41"
Wichita: 1.04"
Winfield: 0.80"
Hutch: 0.76"
Jabara Airport: 0.65"
Salina: 0.23"

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