A thunderstorm moved through Madison County Thursday afternoon, producing a shelf cloud ahead of its arrival followed by heavy rain in its wake.
What is a “Shelf Cloud”?
Shelf clouds form as the rain-cooled thunderstorm air rushes out ahead of the storm and meets up with warm air. The colder, more dense air lifts the warm air, causing it to cool and form the shelf cloud. You may have noticed feeling the cool wind before the rain began.
We see shelf clouds a lot here in the Valley, especially in the summer time.
Heavy Rain is on the Way
Shelf clouds can sometimes let you know that damaging winds may be on the horizon, but these instances are few and far between. They are mainly a heads up that heavy rain is on the way!
Below illustrates the rainfall totals from the thunderstorms associated with the shelf cloud photos. The rain fell in as little as 30 to 45 minutes, illustrating that these summer storms are often super soakers!