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9 scary images of shelf clouds

By: Russell McLendon on Oct. 5, 2011, 9:02 a.m.
Shelf cloud over Rochelle, Ill.

Photo: Bill & Vicki Tracey/Flickr

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Rochelle, Ill.

Like a giant wave crashing ashore, this shelf cloud seemed to swallow the town of Rochelle, Ill., on June 18, 2010. It didn't, but the storm behind it did dump nearly half an inch of rain, according to Weather Underground.

This photo also offers a good example of how shelf clouds form: There's a clear division as the dense, rain-cooled shelf cuts underneath the warm, moist air in front of the storm. And if that wasn't intimidating enough, an eerie blue glow gives the scene an almost supernatural quality.