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Beautiful Shelf Cloud Opens Winter Chasing

Posted on Saturday, December 11, 2010 at 5:00 PM MST

TIERRA VERDE, FL -- Usually when you hear of a lightning-less cold front, you just shrug it off as a rain event. The Winter Season Opener was definitely an exception to that rule! This front had an unusual signature on radar that tipped me off that it could be photogenic. The front was bowing out a little, which didn't indicate much more than gusty winds, but what caught my eye was that the precipitation line went from nothing to bright red very quickly and distinctively. My forecasts had it striking the Tierra Verde/Fort Desoto area in roughly an hour, so I headed out for the target.

My first stop was the Fort Desoto boat ramp, which looks northwest over Bunces Pass and Shell Key. There was a spectacular shelf cloud moving in, and the docks on the ramps made for an excellent frame. I shot pictures of it until it was too close to fit into the viewfinder of the camera. Then I headed for the beach. I pulled up alongside the road going up to North Beach. Getting blasted by 40 mph winds and spitting rain as I got out of the car, I looked up the road and saw the wall of rain coming right at me, and advancing quickly. There wasn't enough time to get out to the beach, so I got up into the truck bed, sheltered the camera from the wind and rain with a jacket, and got some of the best shots I've ever gotten of a rain curtain coming at me and impacting me. The only other series that comes even close was down at the Skyway Bridge last June. Click on the photos link for pictures. Enjoy!

Posted In: Chase Recaps

Tagged: Cold Front, Shelf Cloud