What was that mushroom cloud formation seen from Summit County on Monday evening? | SummitDaily.com

What was that mushroom cloud formation seen from Summit County on Monday evening?

Lone thunderstorm cloud was hanging out over Fairplay

John LaConte
Vail Daily
A unique mushroom cloud formation intrigued photographers around Summit County Monday, June 14.
Photo by Annette Kubek

Social media sites exploded with activity Monday, June 14, as locals posted pictures of a mushroom cloud formation visible from most of Summit and Eagle counties.

Meteorologist Dennis Phillips was able to provide a quick answer: He said locals were enjoying the one storm cloud that was hanging out over Colorado.

“There was a thunderstorm all by itself, hanging out over Fairplay,” Phillips said Monday night after seeing pictures of the cloud.

Phillips said light wind loft was creating the mushroom effect.

“The stem part of that mushroom is the updraft of the thunderstorm, so all that air is getting thrown upward, and it has to spread out, and when the winds are really light aloft, it can spread out in all directions,” Phillips said.

The mushroom cloud formation Monday, June 14, was visible from most of Summit County.
Photo by Voyd J. Elich II

Phillips said the elevation of the storm cloud also contributed to the mushroom cloud effect. The top part of the cloud was at an elevation of about 36,000 feet.

“Once it gets up there around 36,000 feet, it kind of hits a ceiling, and it just starts spreading out, and since the winds are so light, the clouds are going in all directions, a circular pattern,” Phillips said.

Joel Gratz, founding meteorologist of OpenSnow, described the large cumulonimbus formation as a typical thunderstorm cloud.

“This one happened to be very photogenic with light from the sunset and no other clouds around competing for attention,” Gratz said.

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