It’s the season of extreme weather, especially for thunderstorms and tornadoes over the plains.
But this cloud, which looks like it is on the verge of funneling, is actually a specific, and rare, type of storm, according to USA Today. The photo is of the “rotating updraft of a supercell thunderstorm over eastern Wyoming,” Weather Channel meteorologist Jon Erdman told the newspaper.
A supercell is the “largest, strongest and longest-lasting” variety of thunderstorm, USA Today said, and most commonly forms on the Great Plains. These “highly organized storms,” as the National Weather Service describes them, produce just about every significant tornado as well as those golfball-sized hailstones.
“Supercells are also known to produce extreme winds and flash flooding,” the National Weather Service said. The updrafts can travel 100 mph, produce the aforementioned gargantuan hail and “strong and/or violent tornadoes,” while the downdrafts can travel equally fast, to devastating effect.
The photo was taken by the storm chasing group Basehunters, which posted the amazing shot to Twitter, tweeting incredulously, "Some epic structure by Clareton, WY several hours ago!!!"
Earthsky.org got in on the action, snagging a time-lapse video that Basehunters created of the storm forming.