John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
Is it safe to come out from under the bed now?
There are clouds, and then there are clouds: dark, billowing behemoths loaded with so much doom they make you want to crawl back into a diaper.
Thursday afternoon a cloud of the latter variety blew into Pensacola, Florida, and Debbie Williams at WKRG-TV was good enough to snag a photo so the Internet can be as aghast as these people on the beach. (Why aren't they running?) Here it is, in all its horizon-eating monstrosity:
Impressive looking shelf cloud moving into Pensacola FL earlier this afternoon. Via Debbie Williams, WKRG TV. pic.twitter.com/SOELCayzW9— NWS Mobile (@NWSMobile) July 10, 2014
The National Weather Service also identified it as a shelf cloud, which are low, wedge-shaped gusters often attached to the bases of towering thunderstorms. And indeed, storms were in the forecast for yesterday... and today, and tomorrow, into infinity:
I can think of few clouds that carry this dominating bearing: last July's exploding mushroom over Denver must be one, and another would be 2011's "tsunami in the sky" that appeared in Nebraska after toppling through a space-time hole from the terrifying lightning blizzards of Jupiter. But for this year, the monster over Pensacola is so far in the lead for anxiety fuel. Here are a couple more shots of it: