Share

10 Spectacular Clouds

Jon Erdman | TWC
Published: January 17, 2013

Lenticular Clouds

Lenticular clouds above mountains surrounding Death Valley. (Photo credit: Eastcott Momatiuk/Thinkstock)

Few things are more captivating to meteorologists than seeing a stunning cloud right outside the front door.  Particularly, one of these ten spectacular clouds.  

Lenticular clouds are most common near or downwind of mountain ranges.  Their "flying saucer" appearance  is owed to the forced ascent of stable air over mountain ranges.  

By stable air, we mean air that when forced to rise, does not accelerate upward (as in, say, cumulonimbus clouds) but rather comes back down, as it turns colder, or more dense, than the surrounding air.  

The lenticular cloud denotes the upward part, or crest, of the mountain wave of air.  You can't see the downward part, or trough, of the wave, since air moving down dries out.  As long as the ambient weather conditions (winds, humidity) are unchanged, the cloud won't move, appearing to hover near the mountain range.

How about a cloud formation resembling the inside of a whale's mouth?  


Featured Blogs

NO WHITE CHRISTMAS FOR EASTERN U.S.

By Dr. Jeff Masters
December 21, 2014

No Snow in the eastern US this week - much colder Temps going into New Years...

November 2014 Global Weather Extremes Summary

By Christopher C. Burt
December 18, 2014

November was globally the 7th warmest such on record according to NOAA and 8th according to NASA (see Jeff Master’s blog for more about this). It was a cold month in the U.S. with some phenomenal lake-effect snowstorms. A powerful storm, dubbed a ‘Medicane’ formed in the Mediterranean Sea. Deadly floods occurred in Morocco, Italy, and Switzerland. It was the warmest November on record for Australia, Italy, Austria and much of Southeast Asia.Below are some of the month’s highlights.

Live Blog: Tracking Hurricane Arthur as it Approaches North Carolina Coast

By Shaun Tanner
July 3, 2014

This is a live blog set up to provide the latest coverage on Hurricane Arthur as it threatens the North Carolina Coast. Check back often to see what the latest is with Arthur. The most recent updates are at the top.

Tropical Terminology

By Stu Ostro
June 30, 2014

Here is some basic, fundamental terminology related to tropical cyclones. Rather than a comprehensive and/or technical glossary, this represents the essence of the meaning & importance of some key, frequently used terms.

2013-14 - An Interesting Winter From A to Z

By Tom Niziol
May 15, 2014

It was a very interesting winter across a good part of the nation from the Rockies through the Plains to the Northeast. Let's break down the most significant winter storms on a month by month basis.

What the 5th IPCC Assessment Doesn't Include

By Angela Fritz
September 27, 2013

Melting permafrost has the potential to release an additional 1.5 trillion tons of carbon into the atmosphere, and could increase our global average temperature by 1.5°F in addition to our day-to-day human emissions. However, this effect is not included in the IPCC report issued Friday morning, which means the estimates of how Earth's climate will change are likely on the conservative side.