Cumulonimbus 'Mushroom' Cloud Hovers in the Sky Near Amarillo, Texas

Brian Donegan
Published: June 12, 2019

Skygazers near Amarillo, Texas, were treated to the breathtaking sight of a cumulonimbus "mushroom" cloud associated with a thunderstorm southeast of the city Tuesday evening.

A cumulonimbus cloud is a towering, vertical cloud containing a thunderstorm, formed from water vapor forced upward by powerful upper-air currents.

Brian Archuleta shared the following photo from his drive home from work Tuesday evening, when the cumulonimbus cloud hovered in the sky. Notice the classic mushroom-like appearance, which is why cumulonimbus clouds are colloquially called mushroom clouds.

A cumulonimbus "mushroom" cloud appeared in the sky southeast of Amarillo, Texas, Tuesday, June 11, 2019.
(Twitter/Brian Archuleta)

These clouds can form in squall lines, in clusters or all alone, as this one did Tuesday evening. They are capable of producing thunder, lightning, hail, strong winds and tornadoes.

The National Weather Service in Lubbock, Texas, had issued a severe thunderstorm warning on this storm about 7:50 p.m. CDT. However, there were no reports of large hail, damaging winds or tornadoes in the Texas Panhandle on Tuesday, so the mushroom cloud was more photogenic than harmful.

(MORE: It's the Peak Time for Destructive Thunderstorm Winds in the United States

It was a prime example of what meteorologists refer to as an isolated thunderstorm. As you can see in the two photos above, skies surrounding this lone cumulonimbus cloud were mostly clear.

Satellite imagery also captured the isolated nature of this storm, as shown by the billowing clouds and denoted by the white arrow in the animation below.

The white arrow denotes the isolated thunderstorm in the Texas Panhandle in this satellite animation from the evening of Tuesday, June 11, 2019.
(Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere/Regional and Mesoscale Meteorology Branch)

The Weather Company’s primary journalistic mission is to report on breaking weather news, the environment and the importance of science to our lives. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, IBM.