Possible Wall Cloud? (Warning: Terrible Camera Quality)

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Apr 22, 2014
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Charleston, SC
Took this photo back in June of '09 while visiting family around Aberdeen, SD. I had just arrived at my uncle's house a few miles north of Aberdeen, SD, when I noticed the scud cloud in the photo. It didn't phase me much at the time, as I had driven through multiple thunderstorms on the way up that day. I didn't realize at the time, but there appears to be a wall cloud in the photo, too. Not sure how I could have missed that, but apparently, I did. So, I was hoping to get clarification on whether or not it appears to be a wall cloud. I know the storm later produced a tornado near Groton, SD, which is a little bit east of Aberdeen. Thanks for your help!

Supercell by IntoTheEyePhotography, on Flickr
 

calvinkaskey

Guest
Feb 17, 2014
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Wall clouds are extremely common. If it is located in the southwestern side of the thunderstorm it probably is a wall cloud.
 
Oct 26, 2007
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Topeka, Kansas
Uh........wall clouds are NOT extremely common. The vast majority of thunderstorms do not have wall clouds. Of the many thousands of thunderstorms that occur daily around the Earth, would you say that most or a lot of them contain wall clouds? I WOULD say that non-rotating wall clouds are more common than rotating wall clouds, however. Also, you could say that the majority of supercells produce wall clouds.
 
Jul 16, 2013
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Joplin, MO
Wall clouds are extremely common. If it is located in the southwestern side of the thunderstorm it probably is a wall cloud.
As Rich has already said, wall clouds are not extremely common as you have suggested. In 15 years that I've been chasing, I have chased tons of storms that did not have a wall cloud associated with it, so this is not an accurate statement by any means.

The correct answer to give the OP is, it is hard for any of us to judge by a single picture if what you saw was a wall cloud since we weren't there and only given this one picture. A video of the whole structure would be more helpful if you happen to have any video. Was the cloud feature located beneath the updraft of the thunderstorm? Was there any rotation to it?
 
Apr 22, 2014
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Charleston, SC
Can't remember, as it was 5 years ago, and I was more infatuated with the scud clouds than anything else. No clue about the updraft, but I don't recall any rotation. Pretty sure I would've noticed that. But, like I said, it did very briefly produce a tornado, which I heard about, but didn't see.
 
Feb 20, 2014
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Fort Myers, FL
In a "typical" Florida thunderstorm season, I would have to say that I have seen more non-rotating wall clouds than actual rotating wall clouds. But the wall clouds that develop in a thunderstorm in Florida have a different characteristic than those that develop in storms elsewhere as they don't last long and are usually taken over by the precip shaft in a matter of minutes. Then, they usually frag out (break apart) and it just becomes scud at that point.
 
Walls clouds were named as they look (a bit!) like walls under the main updraught, i.e. some kind of lower 'block' of cloud. As I'm sure we all know they (mostly, if not exclusively) form when rain-cooled air from an adjacent downdraught/precip air is ingested by the updraught, increasing RH and lowering the LCL. Thus, it should not be surprising to see forms of wall clouds under many surface-based thunderstorms, even if many are short-lived. Rotating wall clouds are, of course, much rarer, tending to occur almost exclusively below supercell updraughts.

I don't see many wall clouds under non-severe thunderstorms, I must say - this is probably because, in many cases, the outflow from the precip area undercuts the updraught too quickly, and any low cloud beneath the dying updraught is outflow/gust front cloud.