Weather Photo Emails #4

Every so often, I receive an email message from a friend, family member or coworker with various weather photos attached.   The photos are always neat to see and I am happy that these folks think of me when they see weather-related photos.  Please, keep them coming!

I will periodically post one photo from these emails and talk about it, as there are plenty of photoshopped weather photos on the net.  There are also a surprising number of real photos with false explanations.  Finally, some of these photos are uncredited, and so I will attempt to find the original creator and link it here.

THESE PHOTOS ARE NOT MINE, PLEASE DO NOT CREDIT ME FOR THEM!!  Too many times storm chasers and photographers will work exceptionally hard to take the right photo, just to have someone else take the credit.  I will attempt to find the original creator, and if you have more information (or it is you!) please let me know.

With that, I bring you Weather Photo #4:

This photo is legit, and I have seen it many times.

Its caption reads, ” Mammatus “clouds boiling upside down”, on top of a flanking down draft.  Mammatus, also known as mammatocumulus (meaning “mammary cloud”), is a meteorological term applied to a cellular pattern of pouches hanging underneath the base of a cloud.”   Well, where to start?

Yes, there are some mammatus clouds at the very top of the photo, but I promise that’s not what caught your eye.  What caught your eye was the GIANT SHELF CLOUD getting ready to cross over the road.  The shelf cloud shows up as an outflow characteristic;  as a storm becomes outflow dominant, or even during its regular life cycle, this cloud will form near the downdraft region of the storm.  Notice the heavy precipitation directly behind this smooth, laminar-looking shelf cloud.

Also, the mammatus clouds are not “on top of a flanking downdraft.”  They hang under the anvil where air is beginning to cool and sink slightly.  Their formation requires a few things; enough moisture to form a cloud, a strong enough updraft to launch parcels of moist air aloft, and enough shear aloft to have these parcels spread out at the tropopause, typically drifting downwind ahead of the storm.  Out here, the parcels begin to sink slightly, causing the mammatus clouds.  In a really strong storm, sometimes these rising parcels “splatter” against the tropopause, and some are blown upwind, forming mammatus behind the storm.  This is referred to as a “back-sheared” anvil.

This photo shows up in several Flickr and Pinterest galleries, according to Tin Eye, but I haven’t seen any legitimate credit for this photo.  I have seen this photo on so many occasions, and I checked on the websites of the usual suspects.  It looks like a Mike Hollingshead photo, but if it is, he doesn’t have it in his gallery at this time.  I was not able to view all of Warren Faidley’s photos, so it may be his.  Anyway, if you can show me who took this photo, I will gladly credit them.

Real, accurate, though uncredited.  Enjoy the photo!

Don’t worry though, I will have some fake ones and inaccurate ones soon!

Thank you for reading my post.

About highplainschasing

This blog is about my tales in storm chasing. My name is Seth Price and I am an instrumentation instructor at New Mexico Tech. My amateur radio call sign is N3MRA.
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