METAIRIE, La. — Here at WGNO we encourage our viewers to snap weather photos, and share them with us so that we can share them on the news. Occasionally, we see some more rare images like the one pictured above!
Viewer Mark Byrd snapped this photo while fishing, and emailed it in wanting to know what it was.
“It looks like a horizontal tornado. It looks to be spinning very fast,” Byrd said.
This is called a roll cloud.
Roll clouds are a less common variance on what is called a shelf cloud. Both are associated with thunderstorms, and this tube shaped cloud forms along the leading edge of a storm, where the gust front forms. As colder air is forced down from the thunderstorm, it pushes moisture out and forms these clouds that detach from the thunderstorm itself.
While you may feel cooler air or a gust of wind upon nearing these clouds, they do not produce tornadoes. They can also actually be visibly seen on radar like shelf clouds, and appear as a skinny line surrounding the leading edge of whatever direction the storm is moving.
Even though these clouds appear during inclement weather, they are not always an indication of a strong or severe storm. They are usually quite impressive looking, like this one!
If you have a weather photo you would like to share and see on WGNO, or have a weather question about a picture, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org!