Scud Clouds and Virga
minimal precipitation at the surface

Scud clouds are low, detached clouds caught in the outflow beneath the thunderstorm. As cold air first reaches the ground, it lifts relatively warm air, resulting in saturation through ascent. Thus, the presence of sub-thunderstorm base scud clouds almost always indicates the presence of outflow.

Photograph by Doswell

This is a dissipating multicell anvil cloud, looking northeast, late in the afternoon near Fort Morgan, Colorado. Note the lack of precipitation beneath the dissipating storm cell, except for the white virga streak behind the tree line.

Photograph by Moller

The area close to this virga could be quite dangerous for low-level aircraft operations. Microbursts that occur with virga are aptly called dry microbursts, even though a spattering of raindrops may reach the surface.

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Credits and Acknowledgments for WW2010.
Department of Atmospheric Sciences (DAS) at
the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

rain foot, dust foot