I was recently viewing a collection of “60 Insane Cloud Formations” and was inspired to revisit some of the more awesome experiences I’ve had of cloud formations. I took this shot from the shore in Saint Joseph, Michigan, back in October of 2005. This squall line was an incredible example of a roll cloud. It sped in off the lake like a rolling pin, except that it was rotating forward as it progressed. As it passed over me there was a an intense gust of wind–and then perfect calm and blue skies.
I was on South Manitou Island, in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, when I encountered this example of a shelf cloud. The leading edge, which you can see in the distance in this photo, was perfectly smooth and shaped like a wave. Behind was the most turbulent sky I’ve ever witnessed. I don’t have this photo on my website, but a shot I took looking straight up into the turbulent sky has been a fairly popular image. I was able to take pictures of this advancing front for a full half hour–and then the dam burst and I had the most exciting hike of my life back to my campsite.
I witnessed these mammatus clouds at sunset over Leelanau county. I was driving the back roads of the county when I first saw the formation and looked for a place to pull over safely with a clear view of the horizon. They were initially backlit and gray, but as sunset approached they were transformed into an awesome inferno.