🚨 Weather Nerd Alert 🚨


June 24th, 1998- the day that changed my outlook on weather. Going from being deathly afraid of storms to being mesmerized and hypnotized by Mother Nature’s unbelievable power.

But first:

There was just a storm system rolling through Northwest Ohio. This line of storms are called a “Bow Echo,” or a line of storms that look on radar, simply enough, like a bow. By the point they reached Ohio, they had weakened from their strongest point in Michigan. However, they still retained power and heavy rainfall. One of the coolest things from this storm is what is known as a “Shelf Cloud” – where the front edge of the line has formations that look layered. The way this is formed can be a bit confusing, so I won’t go into detail, but it has to do with the different wind-speeds in the atmosphere. These photos of the incoming shelf cloud are really cool.
Shelf Clouds are very ominous looking, and for good reason. This shelf cloud isn’t the most imposing ones I have ever seen, but it is safe to say, if you see shelf clouds, you are in for a strong line of storms.

Some people do confuse shelf clouds with wall clouds, and from a certain perspective this can be understandable. Both are typically lower in the sky than the rest of the clouds. However, the biggest difference is shelf clouds are often large and span the entire horizon, or close to it. Whereas a wall cloud is relatively small and doesn’t take up the entire sky. Of course, Wall Clouds can be more dangerous, as they are a precursor to a possible tornado.

Now back to June 24th, 1998. A nasty supercell thunderstorm rolled through from the north. Supercells are well known for producing tornadoes, which happened this day. It was only an F2 on the Fujita Scale, but still one for the record books. The Fujita Scale was the precursor to the Enhanced Fujita scale that we use today. Both these Scales both go from a 0-weakest to 5-strongest. This tornado was a direct hit to the Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Plant. This sounds scary, but thankfully Nuclear Plants are designed to withstand such events, and there was no critical damage to the plant- not to say that there wasn’t damage.
Although the main town was spared from the tornado, the countryside was not. Several houses were damaged or destroyed, along with the aforementioned nuclear plant. Seeing the damage, especially the mangled steel metal transmission poles, was amazing. I thought “a tornado had this much power?! That’s incredible.” Up to this point I was afraid of storms- hated them with a passion. Whenever one hit, I would go into a room away from windows and hide until it was over. This though? This was different. This changed my outlook. I became fascinated by all things weather, specifically thunderstorms, tornados, and hurricanes. The sheer power of mother nature on full display.
Although I never went to school for Meteorology, I have spent the last 25+ years learning as much as I can about weather. Seeing these shelf clouds, or a wall cloud, or a fun formation of clouds called Mammatus, are always a joy.
<- This is a Mammatus cloud formation :)
For the rest of my life, I will always love storms rolling through- sitting out in a thunderstorm or walking around outside during a tornado warning before it arrives just to see if I can catch a glimpse of it. Mother Nature is fascinating!