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9 scary images of shelf clouds

Oct. 5, 2011, 9:02 a.m.
Shelf cloud over Enschede, Netherlands

Photo: John Kerstholt/Wikimedia Commons

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Shelf esteem

Thunderstorms and politicians are a lot alike: Both drift with the wind, both are full of hot air and both shy away from high pressure. And, fair or not, many people judge both by their faces.

While politicians grin for votes, though, storms glower over their constituents. Some even grow strange "shelf clouds" along their leading edges, like the one pictured here over Enschede, Netherlands. These cloudy countenances stretch out ahead of a storm, sometimes foreshadowing danger and sometimes just grandstanding.

To see more scowling storms, and to find out what causes them, check out the following photo gallery of nine frightening shelf clouds. (Text: Russell McLendon)