Fact Check

Is This Pic of Supercell Thunderstorm Cloud Real?

The iridescent colors prompted praise.

Published May 19, 2021

 (Laura Rowe)
Image Via Laura Rowe
A photograph shows a massive, brightly colored supercell thunderstorm cloud.

On May 18, 2021, a Facebook page run by meteorology enthusiasts called Great Lakes Weather & Climate shared a stunning photograph of a massive, iridescent storm cloud.

The photograph was taken in west Texas by photographer Laura Rowe and shows a supercell thunderstorm illuminated by the setting sum. Rowe also posted her picture on Twitter:

Rowe said she took the shot on the evening of May 16, 2021, between Earth, Texas, and Littlefield, Texas. "We were between the sunset & the storm, so that cast an amazing light on the storm," she wrote.

WRAL meteorologist Mike Moss shared Rowe's picture, praising it as a "real photographic work of art," alongside another picture of a supercell thunderstorm, also taken in Texas:

Here's how the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration describes supercells:

Supercells are storms --- usually, but not necessarily, thunderstorms --- that contain updrafts that rotate about a vertical axis. This rotation is derived from shear in the environmental wind field (that is, a change in wind direction and / or speed with height) surrounding the storm as it begins to grow. Supercells often produce damaging wind, large hail, and tornadoes, and most strong to violent tornadoes are associated with supercells.

Bethania Palma is a journalist from the Los Angeles area who started her career as a daily newspaper reporter and has covered everything from crime to government to national politics. She has written for ... read more