Mammatus clouds over Little Manitou

Cumulonimbus mammatus clouds over Little Manitou Lake in Manitou Beach, Saskatchewan. (Julia Pelish/

Cumulonimbus mammatus clouds fly over Little Manitou Lake and Manitou Beach in Saskatchewan, known for its big skies and sweeping landscapes. (Julia Pelish/

Photo by Julia Pelish Visuals Editor

MANITOU BEACH, SASKATCHEWAN — I visited Manitou Beach and stayed at Manitou Springs Hotel and Mineral Spa last summer where my bedroom window opened up to a lovely view of Little Manitou Lake. On the day I took this picture, the weather had put on a show. Thunderstorms and dark clouds rolled in during the late afternoon, which gave way to a rainbow that spanned the lake and as evening descended these unique cumulonimbus mammatus clouds blanketed the landscape. Of course I had to take a shot, landscapes being one of my favourite photographic indulgences. Saskatchewan is filled with memorable skies such as this.

Recently I experienced a thunderstorm in Toronto and for the second time I noticed these unusual shaped clouds in the sky after the storm. Quite a few people were out taking photos of them too. As quickly as they appeared they seemed to dissipate. The second sighting prompted me to do a Google search for “cloud formations” so I could identify and discover what these cloud formations indicate. I learned they occur during violent weather conditions, they vary in size, and the clouds can be composed of liquid, ice, or a combination of both.

The word mammatus comes from the Latin “mamma” meaning breast and refers to the pouch-like shape similar to a cow’s udder. Mammatus clouds form on the base of the thunderstorm’s anvil clouds. After the ice sacks vaporize they are gone.

This photo was taken with a Nikon D7000, at ISO 400, f13 (for large depth of field) at 1/40th of a second.

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A photographer who has worked in the largest media markets in Canada and the U.S., Julia’s travel photos and videos have been featured prominently in the Toronto Star and been exhibited in galleries in Toronto, New York and Vancouver. Her new line of photo jewelry was inspired by her travels. Even though she is an American, one of her favourite travel experiences was spending Canada Day 2000 on Parliament Hill, joining in a parade with then-Prime Minister Jean Chretien and others. Julia is’s Visuals Editor. See her work at

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