Photos and videos have gone viral on social media showing stunning sights of ominously dark and massive storm shelf clouds rolling across the Australian coast toward Sydney, giving warning of thunderstorms about to break loose over the city.
Even as the Bureau of Meteorology predicted gloom and doom, with warnings of severe storms, large hailstones and heavy rainfall in Sydney, Hunter region and the South and Central coastal regions, massive “tsunami” walls of black shelf clouds — also known as “arcus clouds” — hung over beaches, and loomed menacingly over the city on Friday afternoon.
As the “cloud tsunami” gathered, thousands of brave residents of the city took to the streets to snap photos. Thousands also took to social media to post breathtaking photos and videos of dark and foreboding thunderheads as they rolled slowly across the sky and over beaches, spreading darkness over the city.
The awesome sights over Sydney came after parts of Australia, including South Australia and Victoria, experienced tornadoes and wild, stormy weather, with heavy rains causing flash floods in Adelaide and Port Lincoln, and a tornado touching down in Melbourne, forcing flights to be delayed.
Meanwhile, the State Emergency Services issued warnings to residents to keep children and pets indoors, stay away from windows, unplug electrical appliances and avoid using phones during storms, according to SBS.
Residents of Sydney and other parts of Australia have been treated to similar displays of fearsome-looking clouds in the past. While the sights evoke end-of-world apocalyptic fears among newcomers, they only signal imminent heavy downpour and flash floods to locals.
Not surprisingly, some North American viewers interpreted the awesome cloud formations as evidence of HAARP weather manipulation experiments in Australia. Others suggested conspiracy theories linked to the supernatural.
“To say these awesome pictures are normal… I would say it would depend on which side a level of knowing a mind is thinking… celestial activities hidden all around us having visitors coming in from near and far…”
But residents of Sydney captured similar spectacular images of “apocalyptic” storm fronts last year and uploaded them online with several going viral.
Readers from other parts of the world expressed astonishment while locals shared their experiences.
“The Australians certainly know how to do dramatic weather!”
“I witnessed a storm in Sidney back in 1999 something along these lines… the hail went through roofs making them look like pepper pot tops.”
“One of the things I do miss about Sydney is the fantastic storms that you get coming into Summer. Usually when you have a hot day and then within 15 minutes the temperature drops from 30c to 20c! They are fantastic to watch roll in and the cool breeze they bring with them is delightful after a hot and humid day. I guess they don’t call them a southerly buster for nothing!”
Meteorologists describe shelf clouds — a type of arcus cloud — as low, horizontal, wedge-shaped cloud formation associated with the base of a parent cloud that is usually a thunderstorm. Shelf clouds are associated with the leading edge of thunderstorm outflow while roll clouds — another type of arcus cloud — are formed by outflows of cold air from sea breezes or cold fronts in the absence of thunderstorms.
[Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images]