This afternoon was one of those afternoons that the intensity and uniqueness made it unforgettable. It was a quiet warm summer afternoon, with a blue sky and gentle breeze. Out of nowhere, tiny weird-shaped clouds appeared over Bronte Beach. They looked like small tentacles hanging from the sky. From a previous experience, I knew something interesting was about to happen. I quickly grabbed my camera and hurried to the rocks. This took me around five minutes. By the time I got to the water, the tiny tentacles transformed into a glorious shelf cloud that was glowing in the setting sun.
A shelf cloud is a low, horizontal, wedge-shaped arcus cloud. Shelf clouds occur at the leading edge of thunderstorms and are a form of arcus cloud (along with wall clouds). These striking formations look like a long bar or shelf of cloud below a storm cloud. Shelf clouds are accompanied by gusts of wind and are often followed by rain or hail. A shelf cloud is attached to the base of the parent cloud, which is usually a thunderstorm cumulonimbus but could form on any type of convective cloud.
This crown-like cloud was changing its shape quickly. In every minute it presented a different shape. I had only a couple of minutes to capture this otherworldly scene before a violet gust reached me. It was so strong; it was hard to stand steady and keep my eyes open. I needed to find a sheltered place as the wind picked up the seawater and sprayed it onto my camera.
The clouds quickly moved towards Bondi, which was at the other side of the headland, so I started heading that way, hoping the rock wall will cover the vicious wind. While I was running on the coastal walk the wind was unbearable, sand and small rocks were attacking with full force. It felt like thousands of needles on my skin. I had to shut my eyes and run blindly.
On the other side, the conditions were better, and I unpacked my camera once again. The sun was already behind the horizon and the shelf cloud dissolved into a pink fluffy billow. It seemed I was on a different planet. It was majestic and frightening at the same time watching the colourful sky with the raging wind that was carrying sand, leaves and all sorts of small objects that didn’t have a solid base. On the way home the streets looked like a warzone, with broken trees, tipped rubbish bins, leaves and rubbish were covering everything.