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An imposing shelf cloud descended over Chicago, EarthCam footage shows, but the ominous-looking weather isn’t the end of the world

A picture of a shelf cloud moving through downtown Chicago courtesy of Earthcam.A picture of a shelf cloud moving through downtown Chicago courtesy of EarthCam.


  • An imposing, ominous shelf cloud was spotted in the skies above Chicago. 
  • The cloud is typically associated with the leading edge of a storm, according to NWS.
  • Video shows the cloud moving through the city, bringing strong winds up to 60 mph with it.

At first glance, the shelf cloud that passed through the skies of Chicago on Wednesday morning looked like something out of “Independence Day.” But don’t worry — this ominous-looking formation isn’t signaling the end of the world.

In fact, shelf clouds are quite common, according to the National Weather Service. They typically appear as the “leading edge of a thunderstorm’s outflow or gust front,” harboring strong winds and rain. Their low, wall-like shape may look apocalyptic along the horizon, especially as they move overhead and bring storms with them.

A video shared on Twitter shows a timelapse of the cloud passing over Chicago.

—Alex Fischman (@alex_fischman) April 5, 2023


The National Weather Service of Chicago said the area was experiencing severe weather threats throughout this morning, with strong winds and rains. 

Derek Van Dam, a CNN meteorologist, tweeted that the “powerful” shelf cloud brought wind gusts of up to 60 mph to Chicago.

—Derek Van Dam (@VanDamCNN) April 5, 2023


According to EarthSky, shelf clouds form when there’s an imbalance in air temperature. When cooler air from a storm mixes with surrounding warmer, more humid air, the latter will rise, creating the alien-ship-like shape seen in the video above.

As a shelf cloud passes over an area, there should be a drop in temperature, EarthSky reported. 

Read the original article on Business Insider
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