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Tornado? No, it’s a shelf cloud

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DENVER -- Wednesday's thunderstorms produced more than heavy rain around the metro area and state -- it produced such an ominous sky that some thought they were seeing a tornado.

Based on a person's view, a tornado would be the first thing to come to mind. Video of the cloud formation in question came from Dave Besch.

What Besch saw is part of a shelf cloud.

A shelf cloud forms between the interaction of warm and cold air. The cold air spilling out of the storm spreads out across the ground and forces the warm air surrounding the storm to lift; as it lifts, clouds may form.

Depending on the amount of humidity, these formations can be seen close to the ground. Wednesday afternoon was quite humid and thus the shelf cloud was very near ground level.

The video offers some different views of the same storm so the setup that occurred can be seen.

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