Logo credit: Tracy Kapela
This has got to be one of the best ideas I’ve seen in weather spotting. And it has an awesome name. The Scary Looking Cloud Club.
We’ve all been there. You’re watching some odd poof on the edge of a stormy sky, hanging low, maybe scooting along pretty quickly. Is it …? Could it be …? Na. Well, maybe… . I had better run, just in case. And, oh yeah, call in a funnel cloud report to the proper authorities.
Or should I? This is where the Scary Looking Cloud Club comes in.
This funny-sounding club (which is more of a loose affiliation, or discussion board), really has a serious purpose – or three, as stated on their website:
- Explain and show what scary-looking clouds are and the response they trigger from people.
- Reduce the number of false tornado and/or false funnel cloud reports relayed to County 911 Communication Centers and/or the National Weather Service.
- Have fun educating people.
A generous warning coordination meteorologist in Milwaukee is the driver behind this slice of education, served with a side of humor.
It goes a little something like this. You see an ugly cloud. You panic. You run. You pause briefly to take a photo (or at least that’s what I would do). After you’ve come out of your bomb shelter, you email it to the meteorologist, and he shares it with others. Take this example from Wisconsin:
This is not a tornado. It’s likely “scud,” which according to the National Weather Service is “Small, ragged, low cloud fragments that are unattached to a larger cloud base and often seen with and behind cold fronts and thunderstorm gust fronts. Such clouds generally are associated with cool moist air, such as thunderstorm outflow.”
Ugly, but harmless.
The club’s photo gallery is fun to browse. The key to remember is this: NONE of the scary-looking clouds in the gallery are tornadoes. They’re all just good examples of doppelgangers.