Berlin man captures dramatic cloud formation

Published 12:14 pm Saturday, November 18, 2017

Clouds usually pass over us without our giving them a second look. But every so often, there’s a scene in the sky that arrests our attention. That’s what happened to a Berlin man who, thankfully, had the means to capture the moment.

Steven Beale remembers it was on a July evening in 2015.

“I was on my way home and on my road Berlin Dory Road, which is off Ivor Road, when I saw it [the cloud formation.] It was so massive.”

He called them as shelf clouds, which The Weather Channel website stated as an “arcus or arc clouds… Shelf clouds are typically seen at the leading edge of a thunderstorm or squall line of thunderstorms.

“While menacing in appearance, shelf clouds are not tornadoes or wall clouds.”

The description goes on to explain that a shelf cloud acts as a boundary between a downdraft and updraft of a thunderstorm or line of such storms. Further, as the cloud passes, people will feel a sudden change in wind direction and faster speed. Heavy rain or even hail can follow. Wind gusts afterward can strong enough to knock out power lines.

Naturally, Beale wanted to take a picture, and used his only available camera, which was on his iPhone.

More recently this year, the National Weather Service in Wakefield sponsored a photography contest on its Facebook page, which became the opportunity for many more people beyond Beale’s circle of family and friends to view the awesome image.

“I follow the NOAH site anyway, but somebody in my family saw it and told me,” he said, adding that it turned in at the last minute.

Nevertheless, the number of likes registered on the site pushed its popularity from the top 20 to fourth place, and by Wednesday the photo was locked into the third place. Beale has even gotten requests from area television stations to use his photo.

“I’ve seen other shelf clouds, but nothing like this since,” he said. I was just in the right place at the right time.”

Res Spears took this photo of the Milky Way as seen from Airfield Pond in Wakefield. The glow at the lower right is not a sunset, but from the town of Courtland. — Courtesy | Res Spears

The second place winner was Res Spears, the editor of The Suffolk News-Herald. His photo, which is seen on the front, shows the Milky Way as seen from the Airfield Pond in Wakefield. The lighted area you see in the lower right-hand corner is actually coming from the Courtland. Spears explained that while he was in as dark a place as he could find, the lens had taken in so much light that the town glowed in the distance.

The first place winner, Maria Jaws, shows another spectacular cloud formation at Chick’s Beach. This can be seen at the aforementioned Facebook page.