The skies were writhing with dark clouds on Thursday afternoon. (Richard Barnhill via Flickr )

Yesterday’s storms were as stunning as they were violent, with bubbling cumulus, a gusty shelf cloud, and severe winds that led to numerous downed trees in the western suburbs and widespread power outages. Our readers captured the storms as they blew through the D.C. metro and shared their skies with us on Twitter, Facebook, and Flickr.

Thunderstorms began to pop in western Maryland during the mid-afternoon, and as they rolled through Frederick County, quickly converged in to a large and damaging cluster of severe storms. As the cluster tracked southeast, it also spread out from Loudoun to Howard counties and developed an ominous leading shelf cloud, indicative of strong wind gusts.

This was the view looking north from Dupont as the storms bubbled south.

Meanwhile in the western suburbs, cumulus began to boil in the sky:

Parts of Fairfax County — the Reston area in particular — appear to have been blasted by a microburst, which is an extremely strong downdraft in the storm that causes damaging wind gusts as the cold, rainy column of air punches toward the ground and spreads out in all directions.

[How these storms unleashed a violent microburst in Fairfax County]

These readers may have captured photos of a wet microburst in progress, but at the very least it’s apparent that the western edge of the line that pushed south through Loudoun an Fairfax counties had an incredible amount of rain and large hail.


(Justin Gruber via Flickr )

(Nathan Jones via Flickr )

(John Boggan via Flickr )

But it wasn’t all angry on Thursday afternoon. As the rain cleared out the skies apologized with phenomenal double rainbows all around the D.C. area. At one point it seemed like everyone was seeing rainbows at the same time from Fairfax to Prince George’s.


(John Boggan via Flickr )

(Richard Barnhill via Flickr )

After the storms had passed, the lingering cumulus clouds made for a beautiful sunset, seen here over Rosslyn.


(Justin Gruber via Flickr )