Breathtaking moment as the huge awe-inspiring La Nina shelf cloud rolls towards Melbourne

The breathtaking moment when a huge awe-inspiring ‘shelf cloud’ rolls over the ocean as photographer captures a unique weather phenomenon

  • Photographer expected a plank cloud, but not such a beautiful one
  • Summer of Australia’s La Nina weather pattern has gotten off to a dramatic start
  • Last month was Australia’s wettest November in 121 years since 1900


When most people take shelter, the shutters slam, and the doona tighten up a bit, Vaughan Laws is chasing storms.

And sometimes he catches a beauty, like this one taken Thursday in the Melbourne suburb of Frankston — which he rates in his top five photos ever.

When Mr. Laws heard the forecast was a “severe thunderstorm with heavy rainfall, damaging winds and potentially large hailstones,” he grabbed his camera, got into the car and headed for where he hoped he would get the best pictures.

He guessed right and caught a shelf cloud that looks like a humpback whale rolling over the horizon. He also got a little wet.

Vaughan Laws took tens of thousands of photos but ranks these in his top five ever

“I knew there were going to be severe storms in the Bay Area, so I definitely went for that,” he told the Daily Mail Australia.

The summer of Australia’s La Nina weather pattern has kicked off dramatically, following the wettest November the country has seen since 1900 – 121 years ago.

It was also the coolest November in Australia since the 1999 La Nina event.

An awe-inspiring shelf cloud captured by Melbourne photographer Vaughan Laws

An awe-inspiring shelf cloud captured by Melbourne photographer Vaughan Laws

But he hadn’t expected to find something so dramatic.

What is a shelf cloud?

A shelf cloud is a low, horizontal, wedge-shaped cloud.

It is attached to the base of the mother cloud, which is usually a thunderstorm cumulonimbus.

Cloud rising movements can often be seen in the outer part of the shelf cloud, while the underside often appears turbulent and wind-torn.

Source: Wikipedia

“I expected a shelf cloud, but didn’t think it would be.

“I expected there would be lightning, but everyone on the beach was quite surprised at what we saw,” he said.

“I’ve always loved capturing those moments on camera.

‘Experience the bad weather itself is also a bit exciting. I like the hunt for these kinds of shots.’

Mr Laws has taken tens of thousands of photos in his life and this is one of his best.

“It’s probably in the top 10 I’ve ever taken, maybe the top five. It’s definitely there at the top,” he said.

The rain and gusts of 100 km/h didn’t stop a man dedicated to taking the perfect shot.

“I was huddled between the cars and tried to take some more pictures at the same time,” he said.

“That was a pretty fast-moving storm. It cleared up and is now heading east.”

Mr Laws said he sometimes gets to dangerous points, ‘but it didn’t occur to me tonight.

“There have been times when I’ve been in northern Victoria where they got drier storms and close range lightning.

“Then you jump in the car and leave the camera on a continuous shutter outside.”

He also has technology on his camera that is triggered to take a picture by a lightning bolt.

But Thursday night’s work was one man and his camera, braving the elements for awe-inspiring photos.

When most people take cover, Vaughan Laws chases storms for shots like this

When most people take cover, Vaughan Laws chases storms for shots like this

Stunning storm clouds over Victoria amaze residents as the ‘big sky doona’ rolls in as Melbourne is hit by a severe storm

By Sam McPhee for Daily Mail Australia

Stunning rain clouds over Melbourne resembling a ‘big sky doona’ have astonished residents as experts warn Victoria will hit even more storms and flooding this weekend.

Large parts of Victoria are expected to experience extreme weather for the second consecutive day after heavy rains led to flash flooding from major cities to regional towns.

The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) issued severe warnings across much of Victoria on Thursday after violent weather saturated the state on Wednesday.

Backyards in Sunbury in Melbourne’s west were covered in hail that looked almost like snow, while flash flooding in Footscray saw cars plunging downriver.

Pubs and cafes with alfresco dining lost tables and chairs in the city as sidewalks and roads flooded with rising water.

BOM has released a broad warning zone that includes Geelong, Ballarat, Bacchus Marsh and Daylesford.

The SES said it received more than 230 calls on Wednesday, mainly related to property damage caused by falling trees and flash flooding.

They reported that more than 6,000 homes had lost power.

The west of Melbourne took the brunt of the wild weather, with Sunbury, Essendon and Maribyrnong being the heaviest.

There were reports of a 15km commute to the city that took motorists more than three hours.

Tullamarine airport registered wind speeds of 106 km/h on Wednesday.