shelf cloud
Screengrab via Facebook/Weather Channel

'Apocalyptic' Shelf Cloud Freaks out Pennsylvania Countryside

It's not the apocalypse, but don't tell that to Pennsylvanians freaked out by this eerie shelf cloud. Footage of the ominous weather phenomena really got people talking earlier this week.

The low-hanging clouds score full marks for dramatic effect. This particular shelf cloud looks extra creepy thanks to the wispy white fingers rolling over the countryside with a dark underbelly not far behind.

And while these particular clouds don't do damage, they certainly signify a storm that can. Shelf cloud formations appear on the edge of thunderstorms. Usually pretty big thunderstorms, too. The eerie sight of these beautiful formations means hail, lightning, heavy rains and possibly tornados loom in the distance.

The Weather Channel shared some footage of the cloud. The video has more than 6 million views since being posted on Feb. 28.

But it's not just the sight of the cloud that puts folks at unease. You can actually feel them too.

When a thunderstorm rolls through, the updraft of the massive clouds creates lower pressure at the center of the storm. That means the surrounding air actually rushes towards the storm to "occupy" that new low-pressure space.

So shelf clouds also often bring a sudden change in wind direction and, for the extra sensitive, a possible feeling of something being "not quite right." Kind of like when you're in an airplane and there's a change in cabin pressure.

In other words, it's not the apocalypse, but don't blame these Pennsylvanians for thinking twice. And honestly, it's a good idea to treat the sight of these weather patterns with that kind of respect.

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Because shelf clouds usually indicate particularly severe weather, folks want to head indoors, preferable to the lowest, central room in the house without windows. A recent rash of severe weather struck across middle America, bringing severe damage.

Sadly, tornados in Illinois killed four people over the weekend. So while it's fun to gawk at these beautifully creepy weather patterns, just remember mother nature is powerful, and it's always better safe than sorry.

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