“Stranger Things” over the Mérida skies (Shelf Cloud formation)

Many residents of Merida, Yucatan, Mexico, took to the streets to record video footage of what appeared to be a large shelf cloud, as it loomed over the city on Thursday July 25.

Shelf clouds are a favorite on social media, with countless people posting photos and videos when they do appear. The imagery that these clouds create can be stunning, and the science behind them is also very interesting.


shelf cloud is a low-hanging, well-defined, wedge-shaped formation that occurs along the leading edge of a gust front in a thunderstorm. Shelf clouds most often form just ahead of intense lines of thunderstorms.


Shelf clouds are basically a boundary between cold air and warm air near or on top of a thunderstorm, or group of thunderstorms. The colder air descends to the Earth’s surface while the warmer air is lifted and eventually condenses, creating the image we know as a shelf cloud.

Daniel Enrique Meneses Rosendo was able to record the cloud as it it appeared over Merida, showcasing the contrast of the cloud against the Yucatan sky. Credit: Daniel Enrique Meneses Rosendo via Storyful



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