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This panoramic apparately widespread cumulonimbus cloud was actually a relatively small thunderstorm with hail approaching the Maltese Islands from the NE as confirmed by the satellite image on the sixth thumbnail. The full yellow and red glow of the cloud were created by the setting sun as the western quadrant was completely devoid of any cloud. Sunsets and to a lesser extent sunrises are golden times for capturing excellent weather photos as the sun shining from the side reveals all the feautures of any cloud formation. This thunderstorm developed as the tail-end of an occluded front passed over the Islands. This was confirmed by the SLP chart on the fifth thumbnail. It is virtually certain that the front was cold-occluded having acted like a cold front by creating cumuliform clouds and dropping the temperature significantly following the brief thunderstorm. The colder airmass behind this front was confirmed by the freezing level chart of the seventh thumbnail. As could be noticed from the storm photos and confirmed through the weather sounding of the fourth thumbnail, the air colomn was not particularly unstable as the cloud tops were levelling out at relatively low altitudes.
Particularly striking was the ‘cauda’ feauture which is quite rare. In this photo, this is revealed as an inflow band, colloquially known as a tail cloud, to the west side of the cumulonimbus capillatus incus cloud. The first thumbnail is a single shot of this feature using a professional camera. Upon closer inspection, the tail cloud and the cumulonimbus cloud only seem to be partially connected with each other, perhaps another front of cumuliform clouds. Any comments and discussion about this would be greatly appreciated. The cloud foreground seemed to be composed of stratocumulus or altocumulus. The second thumbnail is another photo taken just before sunset when the cloud was developing whilst passing over the southern side of Malta. This reveals a cumulonimbus cloud bubble embedded with widespread altocumulus stratiformis opacus anvil. The storm developed and moved swiftly over the area lasting merely an hour. However, it produced large quantities of small hail as shown in this video link – ’27Feb19LatePMHail’ ‘. Finally, the third thumbnail shows what looked like early morning altocumulus lenticularis clouds which were totally unrelated with the storm that occured much later in the day.