IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


12th July, 2023 Geography

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A video circulating on social media that showcases a captivating shelf cloud formation during the monsoon in Haridwar.


  • A video circulating on social media showcases a captivating shelf cloud formation during the monsoon in Haridwar.
  • The video depicts a horizontal cloud formation with a clearly defined line and horizontal rotation.
  • The authenticity of the video has not been independently confirmed by the FPJ.

Description of the Video

  • The video captures the remarkable sight of clouds resembling an imposing wall, similar to a snow-capped mountain.
  • The footage shows individuals walking along the road as the cloud takes shape beside it.
  • The video has gained significant attention on social media platforms, with almost 1 lakh views.

Understanding Shelf Clouds

  • Shelf clouds are a type of Arcus cloud characterized by a low-lying, horizontal formation.
  • They appear as a wedge-shaped structure beneath the main cloud base and typically form on the leading edge of a storm.

Formation of Shelf Clouds

  • Shelf clouds are formed when a mass of cold, dense air forcefully interacts with a warmer air mass.
  • This phenomenon occurs during the downdraft of a thunderstorm, where the descending cold air creates a strong gust front.

Distinctive Characteristics

  • Shelf clouds have a distinct horizontal appearance, stretching across the sky in a straight line.
  • They often take on a wedge-like or arc-shaped structure, curving upward toward the storm's main cloud base.
  • Shelf clouds have a well-defined, solid line separating the cloud formation from the sky.

Meteorological Phenomenon

  • Shelf clouds are associated with a strong gust front, which is caused by the downdraft of the thunderstorm.
  • They mark the boundary between the cold, descending air from the storm and the warmer air ahead of it.
  • As the cold air meets the warm air, it is forced upward, leading to the rapid formation of the shelf cloud.

Visual Impact and Perception

  • Shelf clouds create a striking visual spectacle due to their distinct shape, size, and contrast with the surrounding sky.
  • Their captivating appearance often generates curiosity and interest among observers.
  • The dark and looming nature of shelf clouds can create a sense of anticipation for an approaching storm.

Safety Considerations

  • Shelf clouds are typically found in conjunction with thunderstorms, which can bring strong winds, heavy rainfall, and lightning.
  • Their presence often suggests the potential for severe weather conditions, prompting the need for caution and preparedness.


Q) Which of the following clouds is found at high altitudes, is not associated with precipitation and has a wispy appearance?

(a) Cirrus

(b) Cumulus

(c) Stratus

(d) Nimbus

Ans: A