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Dramatic "shelf cloud" brings sudden burst of wind to Olympic Peninsula

A shelf cloud is spotted in Sequim, Wash. on Sept. 29, 2017 (Photo: Andy Sallee)

There was some active weather in the North Sound Friday evening, but one particular cell on the Olympic Peninsula might have had them beat.

These dramatic photos above were taken in Sequim Friday afternoon.

A heavy rain cell created a rather dramatic looking "shelf cloud" -- so created when downdrafts spread out from intense rain showers. As the cool wind races outward from the cell's center, it pushes into the warmer air surrounding the cloud, creating lift and a visible line of clouds.

For those on the ground, it's a signal that a strong downdraft has been produced and is spreading along the surface -- and that a wall of wind is on its way.

That was true in this case as around the time these photos were taken, my dad had called from Port Angeles and said a wall of wind had just struck out of nowhere. His weather station measured a gust of 32 knots where the winds had been essentially calm before.

Here you can watch it come through on my parents' web camera:

By severe weather standards, a 32-knot gust front is pretty paltry. Sometimes in more intense thunderstorms, those downbursts can create intense winds that can reach 70-100 mph!


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