Roll cloud over Dorset, England

This magnificent acrus cloud, a rare "roll cloud," turned up over Weymouth and Portland in Dorset, England last weekend. Many residents were concerned that the cloud was a tornado. From Dorset Echo (photo by Peter Minster):
Storm.Jpg.Display Met office forecaster Michael Lawrence told the Echo: "It was a roll cloud. It's a relatively rare, low-level, horizontal, tube shaped cloud that's completely detached from the base of a thunder cloud.

"It's most frequently observed on the leading edge of thunderstorms. The cloud rotates about its horizontal axis. They are not tornadoes.

"Rare roll cloud makes its way over Portland and Weymouth" (via Fortean Times)


  1. I was a camp director for two summers in Northern Minnesota. Early one evening before the group campfire one of these rolled over the lake. I have no idea how to judge distances in the air, but it was really low and REALLY creepy. I had never seen one of these before, and neither had anyone else, so I decided to cancel the campfire and made the unilateral decision to have a tornado drill.

    About ten minutes later a terrible thunderstorm blew through. No tornado, but nobody faulted me for my decision.

  2. I live there! Glad to see my beautiful county has made an appearance on the blog! The location of the photo is where the olympic 2012 sailing events are occuring – this would have scared everyone quite a bit i imagine. Doesn’t sound like it will happen again anytime soon though.

    Once when i was a young lad i was hiking over those hills in a storm, and the same newspaper reported that there had been a mini tornado the next day. Could the region be prone to abnormal cloud/weather events?

  3. Ummmm…. did nobody see “Half Blood Prince” or “Deathly Hallows Pt. 1?” Kinda obvious what’s happening in England.

  4. About 15 years ago I saw one of these, but MUCH darker. Like this one, it was on the leading edge of a thunderstorm (though we didn’t actually get the thunderstorm, it was just south of us). I would call the cloud menacing, it wasn’t just rolling through. It was undulating and spinning. Looking up the tree lined street, you could see the waves of wind coming in as each tree started to sway.

  5. I’ve seen those in Illinois where I live, similarly, just prior to a severe thunderstorm. Fascinating and freakish.

  6. I live in Missouri and I have seen 3 of these today. The month of may is full of crazy storms and tornadoes.

  7. Cool! I saw one of those too once when it rolled over my house a few years ago. Very impressive sight.

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