Breathtaking moment as massive awe-inspiring La Nina shelf cloud rolls towards Melbourne

Breathtaking moment a massive ‘shelf cloud’ rolls across the ocean as photographer catches unique weather phenomenon off the coast of Australia

  • Photographer was expecting a shelf cloud, but not one quite so stunning
  • Australia’s La Nina weather pattern summer has started off dramatically 
  • Last month was Australia’s wettest November in 121 years, since 1900


When most people are taking shelter, battening down the hatches and pulling the doona a little tighter, Vaughan Laws is out chasing storms. 

And sometimes, he catches a beauty, such as this taken in Melbourne‘s Frankston suburb on Thursday – which he rates in his top five pictures ever. 

When Mr Laws heard the weather forecast was for a ‘severe thunderstorm with heavy rainfall, damaging winds and possible large hailstones’ he grabbed his camera, got in the car and headed for where he hoped he’d get the best shots. 

He guessed right and captured a shelf cloud that looks like a hump back whale rolling across the horizon. He also got a bit wet.

Vaughan Laws has taken tens of thousands of pictures, but rates this one in his top five ever

‘I knew there were going to be severe storms in the bay area, so I was definitely going out for that,’ he told Daily Mail Australia. 

Australia’s La Nina weather pattern summer has started off dramatically, after the wettest November the country has seen since 1900 – 121 years ago. 

It was also Australia’s coolest November since the La Nina event of 1999. 

An awe-inspiring shelf cloud captured by Melbourne photographer Vaughan Laws

An awe-inspiring shelf cloud captured by Melbourne photographer Vaughan Laws

But he wasn’t expecting to find something so dramatic.

What is a shelf cloud? 

A shelf cloud is a low, horizontal, wedge-shaped cloud. 

It is attached to the base of the parent cloud, which is usually a thunderstorm cumulonimbus.  

Rising cloud motion can often be seen in the outer part of the shelf cloud, while the underside often appears turbulent and wind-torn.

Source: Wikipedia 

‘I was expecting a shelf cloud, but didn’t think it would be quite like that. 

‘I was expecting there to be lightning, but everyone on the beach was pretty amazed with what we saw,’ he said.

‘I’ve always loved capturing those sorts of moments on camera. 

‘Experiencing the severe weather itself is also a bit of a thrill. I like the chase for this kind of shot.’

Mr Laws has taken tens of thousands of pictures in his life, and this rates among his best.

‘It’s probably in the top 10 I’ve ever taken, maybe the top five. It’s definitely up there at the very top,’ he said. 

The rain and 100km/h gusts did not put off a man dedicated to getting the perfect shot. 

‘I was huddled between the cars, trying to get some more shots at the same time,’ he said.  

‘That was quite a fast moving storm, it’s cleared the air and gone off east now.’ 

Mr Laws said he sometimes does get to a dangerous point, ‘but it didn’t occur to me tonight. 

‘There have been times when I’ve been in northern Victoria where they get drier storms and close range lightning. 

‘That’s when you jump in the car and leave the camera outside on a continuous shutter.’

He also has technology on his camera that is triggered to take a picture by a lightning bolt.    

But Thursday night’s work was one man and his camera, braving the elements for awe-inspiring pictures.  

When most people are taking cover, Vaughan Laws is out chasing storms for shots such as this

When most people are taking cover, Vaughan Laws is out chasing storms for shots such as this

Stunning storm clouds over Victoria amaze residents as the ‘big sky doona’ rolls in while Melbourne is hit by severe storm 

By Sam McPhee for Daily Mail Australia

Stunning rain clouds over Melbourne resembling a ‘big sky doona’ have amazed residents as experts warn more storms and flooding are set to batter Victoria through the weekend.

Large parts of Victoria are set to experience a second consecutive day of extreme weather conditions after heavy rain sparked flash floods from major cities to regional towns.

The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) issued severe warnings for much of Victoria for Thursday after violent weather saturated the state on Wednesday.

Backyards in Sunbury in Melbourne’s west were covered by hail almost resembling snow, while flashing flooding in Footscray saw cars carried downstream.

Pubs and cafes with outdoor dining lost tables and chairs across the city as rising water inundated sidewalks and roads.

BOM released a wide-ranging warning zone that covers Geelong, Ballarat, Bacchus Marsh and Daylesford.

The SES said they’d received more than 230 calls on Wednesday, mostly relating to damage of property caused by falling trees and flash flooding.

They reported more than 6,000 homes lost power. 

Melbourne’s west copped the brunt of the wild weather, with Sunbury, Essendon and Maribyrnong the worst hit. 

There were reports of 15km commutes into the city taking motorists more than three hours.

Tullamarine Airport registered winds of 106km/h on Wednesday.


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