The true meaning of mammatus clouds

In reality, you do not always witness them after the passing of any storm in question, since mammatus generally occur on the Anvil of a thunderstorm, meaning it would be dependant on the storms relative direction, as to say, if the anvil would pass over you, before the core, or after it.

Now, mamatus can go on for a while, even after the storm has dramatically weakened, or even died, because the storrms updraft tower, will rise up into the anvil, and the anvil will float on, meaning that even after the storm has died, the mammatus can still hold up the structure for a short period of time. Mammatus really are a sign of a strong updraft, in some cases, and very strong turbulence, thus rendering undulatus formations.


This is of a dead updraft of an LP storm, this year in SD (Redshirt) that I was on, 6/13/06.....the storm is dead, and the base is already beginning to rise up into the anvil but, shortly after this picture was taken, the updraft base had completely vanished into the anvil, yet the mamatus stayed around for maybe an hour later.
The article means well but it's message is a little ambiguous.

Still, mammatus can in no way be seen as a guarantee or near-guarantee of nearby severe weather. They are frequently seen in other situations such as orphan anvils, anvils of decaying storms, anvils of Scottish Cbs (completely harmless ;) ) etc. etc.

Being pretty much self taught when it comes to weather phenomena, I sometimes come up with my own reasoning for why certain things happen... It was while chasing a supercell through southern IL last summer with my cousin when he asked what caused these certain clouds(mammatus) to form...Not knowing even what they were called at the time, I told him that they occur in the same way a freezer does... You know, a freezer is opened and the ice cold air comes rolling out once it hits the warmer air inside a given house. Basically a supercell with a high top rolls through warm air and the mammatus are the result. Am I an idiot or am I somewhat leaning toward the right direction???
I would agree with that analogy Pete, It's just an interaction between opposing temperatures. Mike has some helpful links for those who are interested. Very neat phenomenon, the magazine photo that a stormtrack member had published was of mammatus reflecting off a lake.
Today on (if not today look in archives -see bottom) for these images. It says that mammatus are "when storms are breaking up"

Yesterday in the Czech Republic, Matus Kocka photographed some "very strange clouds" hanging over Brno where he is going to college:

These are mammatus clouds. They form in turbulent air on the undersides of thunderstorms. Although mammatus clouds are popularly thought to signal the approach of severe weather, new research shows the opposite is true. These lumpy clouds are most often seen when storms are breaking up. Indeed, Kocka photographed these "after some strong weather" swept through Brno. More images: #1, #2, #3, #4

I disagree with the message of this article, although you normally witness these clouds after the passage of a storm and they can occur during weakening. I still believe that they are an excellent indicator of the severe potential (vigorous, persistent updraft). Here is the article I found...