Saturday storms produce numerous photos of shelf clouds

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WEST MICHIGAN — Two rounds of strong to severe thunderstorms that rolled through West Michigan Saturday morning and another round Saturday afternoon/evening generated a plethora of threatening, ominous shelf clouds. Thank you to all who either posted (via social media) or sent in (via email) all the photos to FOX 17!

If you’ve ever been out ahead of thunderstorms you may recall the cool outflow winds that typically precede the arrival of the storms. These winds tend to hit the surface, then roll back in to the air. They create quite the threatening/scary looking cloud that hangs across the sky like a “shelf.” We don’t get severe weather or tornadoes from these clouds, but they can catch quite a few eyes and the attention of most weather watchers that get a glimpse.

If these shelf clouds were rolling across the sky on a horizontal axis, they would be considered roll clouds. It’s always difficult to determine if there’s actually a “roll” to the cloud from a still photo, but nonetheless these clouds are amazing in the structure, formation, and awe they create. We should mention that most of these images are the same shelf cloud taken from various locations…it is NOT several different shelf clouds!

The photo attached to this story was a beautiful image of a well-defined shelf cloud submitted by Heather Kennedy as the afternoon storms rolled onshore. Here’s another one below by Sheryl Piedt Kaptur.

Sheryl Piedt Kaptur

Here’s another great panoramic shelf cloud shot by Kelly Webber below.

Kelly Weber

Below a panoramic shelf cloud by Ray Cochran.


Karen Clark snapped this shelf cloud below.


Get the complete forecast at And by the way, the Saturday morning storms generated clouds and rain and prevented West Michigan from reaching 90 degrees. That said, we have now gone 675 days without a 90 degree temperature. September 2013 was the last time we recorded 90 in Grand Rapids!

Here are more photos that you sent in!

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