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An odd encounter with a rare cloud formation over the weekend left an Escanaba entrepreneur awestruck, then gasping for air, and then in demand from news agencies and weather sites wanting to use her eerie photos and videos.

Holly Belongie Marenger and her husband, Matt, were at their rental property in Au Train on Saturday night when he called her outside to look at Lake Superior, which had suddenly retreated 30 feet.

By the time she rushed out, she said, the water was returning — "but I noticed, in the background, a weird gray streak in the sky."

It was a roll cloud, an even more random cousin of the unusual shelf cloud. Both are formally classified as arcus clouds, and as the one she spotted hit the shoreline, even the lifelong Yooper "had to turn away from it."

"The wind was so fierce I couldn't catch my breath," she said.

As the Weather Channel's website describes it, roll clouds look like giant rolling pins. They differ from shelf clouds in that shelf clouds typically fall across the leading edge of thunderstorms, while roll clouds have separated from a storm.

There was no rain Saturday, Marenger told The Detroit News, but the temperature dropped from 85 to probably 65. When she waded into the lake after the cloud hit a line of pine trees and dissipated, the water — typically 65 degrees at the shoreline — "was so cold it was like walking in a glass of ice."

The Marengers, both 51, own Mr. Bike, Ski & Fitness and a coffee shop in Escanaba, as well as a lodge and two rental cabins in Au Train, about 60 miles north. Married 30 years, they have six children and no experience dealing with phone calls from the likes of CBS and a news agency in Seattle.

Holly Marenger hadn't expected attention. She simply posted her images on Facebook, and the Internet unleashed its own kind of breathlessness.

"It's a little bit overwhelming," she said — not unpleasant, but jarring.

As she told her husband, "I wish I had put this on your page."

nrubin@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @nealrubin_dn

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