Weather Blog

Stormy weather: Pretty here; scary there

Stormy weather: Pretty here; scary there

We've had some relatively stormy weather around the Puget Sound region over the past few days, but as usual it pales in comparison to what most of the rest of the nation would count as stormy.

YouNews contributor captured the photo above of the mammatus clouds over Mason County on Monday.

Dr. Dale Ireland even captured a different set of mammatus clouds visible over the Hood Canal on Monday evening. (I keep blogging about how rare these clouds are in the Northwest, but I'm beginning to wonder now since we've had three good sightings of these clouds this spring.)

Anyway, for those that missed the first two blogs, mammatus clouds are signs of turbulent and stormy weather and many times indicate severe weather. It's fairly common in the Midwest and East, and usually not quite so common here.

But for these clouds, now we have some animation of how they form. Check out this short video from Ireland's web camera:

This particular cell didn't do much besides some heavy rain and a little hail.

But other cells have been spitting out some decent-sized hail, especially by Northwest standards.

Eric Dunn of Snoqualmie found hail ranging from 1/2-3/4" in diameter! Usually, we get pea-sized hail and we're thinking it's a strong hail storm.

And here is some video from Snoqualmie by YouNews contributor cbparks:

Sometimes these towering clouds that have our stormy weather can reach heights of 10,000-15,000 feet; maybe 20,000 for our largest of large storms.

So, sounds pretty stormy, eh?

But to a Midwesterner or even a veteran of the Great Lakes or Southeast, all that stuff up to this point would be fairly laughable. Indeed, severe thunderstorms there routinely reach 30,000-50,000 feet with some super cells that can push 70,000 feet tall -- over 13 miles high!

"So, you want severe weather," they'll say. "I'll show you severe weather. You think those bumpy clouds are something? We call those "speed bump" clouds. Here are some real storm clouds..."

Like, this tornado that just touched down in Pine Apple, Alabama on Friday: (Courtesy: Earl Baumgardner,

"You think that was special? In Iowa, sometimes they get two tornadoes -- at the same time!" This footage was taken April 9:

"And you think 1/2" hail is something special? How about softball size hail?" This is one of my favorite hail videos, which was taken in Oklahoma last year. (Warning: There is a lot of "OMG" by those taking the video):

And then, there is this video of a tornado versus a train, which was shot ages ago and I've shown before but the subject today gives me an excuse to post it again:

But just because our stormy days aren't as stormy and our clouds aren't 13 miles tall, doesn't mean they can't be awe-inspiring.

Here is time lapse video over Seattle on April 18, taken from the University of Washington Atmospheric Sciences Department:

So there are some benefits to living in a place that rarely has severe weather, even if it means some stretches of cool and gray :)