As thunderstorm warnings went out across portions of Central Texas Wednesday night, many KVUE viewers started looking out their windows and wondering about a large, glowing cloud.
We received two dozen photos from KVUE.com readers in our YouNews section, which got us wondering about the cloud as well.
I turned to KVUE meteorologist Albert Ramon for some answers. He says the noticeable storm cloud was a cluster of cumulonimbus clouds. According to theweatherprediction.com, a cumulonimbus cloud is “a thunderstorm cloud that encompasses the lower, middle and upper levels of the troposphere. They form by a deep layer of rising positively buoyant air in the troposphere.”
Such clouds were part of the thunderstorm that triggered the Severe Thunderstorm Warnings in Bastrop, Lee, and Fayette County. Ramon says the storm also produced quarter-size to golf ball-size hail and frequent lightning.
Ramon says it takes three ingredients to produce a cumulonimbus cloud: instability, moisture, and lift. “With high temperatures in the upper 90s to 100, the atmosphere was very unstable,” Ramon said. “You’ll remember it has been very humid the last few days; that’s the humidity, or moisture, from the Gulf. The last ingredient was lift in the atmosphere; that’s what a weak frontal boundary did. It lifted the moisture up, produced bubbling clouds, then the instability in the atmosphere lead to the severe thunderstorms east of IH-35 last night.”
As for the clouds’ eye-catching orange color, Ramon says that was due to the sun during sunset; as it passed through a thicker atmosphere, the colored light was reflected off the towering clouds.
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