Textbook supercell and rotating wall cloud in Newaygo County

Posted at 11:49 PM, Aug 29, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-29 23:49:25-04

WEST MICHIGAN — It’s not often that we see a classic severe weather cloud formation in our state, but one appeared with the Thursday evening storms. The cloud was reported by a weather spotter to the National Weather Service and was snapped by Danae Curtis between Newaygo and Grant in southern Newaygo County. At the time, radar was showing rotation in velocity mode and there was a SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING in place with the possibility of a tornado.

The cloud, known as or called a supercell thunderstorm…that’s a storm with a rotating updraft, also had (what appeared to be) a wall cloud. From our perspective at FOX 17, this was/is pretty impressive since we rarely see or experience them. While we don’t have any widespread or defined damage, there were reports of downed trees and power lines, and also at least a few eye witness reports of a funnel between Newaygo and Grant (no doubt spawned from this cell).

At one point with these storms, more than 8,700 people were without power scattered about the area. We also had reports of very heavy rain of between one to two inches in many locations as the storms moved through. Hail was also reported as large as golfball size (1.75″) in southern Newaygo County. Frankly, one would expect that with a supercell thunderstorm towering thousands of feet into the air and vertical updrafts strong enough to sustain hail that size.

If you’re wondering exactly what a wall cloud is, here’s  simple definition from Wikipedia. “A wall cloud (murus or pedestal cloud) is a large, localized, persistent, and often abrupt lowering of cloud that develops beneath the surrounding base of a cumulonimbus cloud and from which tornadoes sometimes form. It is typically beneath the rain-free base (RFB)[3] portion of a thunderstorm, and indicates the area of the strongest updraft within a storm. Rotating wall clouds are an indication of a mesocyclone in a thunderstorm; most strong tornadoes form from these. Many wall clouds do rotate; however, some do not.”

Click here to see some classic images of wall clouds. Our weather the remainder of the holiday weekend will be far more on the quieter side…perhaps some showers Sunday.

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