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By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:07 PM GMT on May 26, 2005

The photo below posted today, titled, "Strange clouds" is an example of virga. Virga (also called fallstreaks) are wisps or streaks of rain or ice crystals precipitating out of a cloud, which evaporate before hitting the ground. Virga falling from high clouds made of ice crystals frequently angle back from the parent cloud, as seen in the photo below, "Sunset Virga". This happens because the winds at cloud level (where the jet stream can be) are usually higher than the winds closer to the surface. However, the photo "Wispy downward trend" shows virga falling from a cloud where the winds at cloud level and below are the same.

Sunset Virga (jadnash)
A nice display of virga at sunset.
Sunset Virga
Strange clouds (Jellybeans)
Photo taken in the Czech Replublic while on holday.
Strange clouds
Wispy downward trend (WeatheringHeights)
This cloud almost looks like a tornado, but it was virga ... I think.
Wispy downward trend

The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

Reader Comments

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3. Topcat22
10:17 PM GMT on June 08, 2005
I saw the great photo of "marshmallow" clouds on the site, and then saw these clouds live and in person the next day. What is the significance (if any) of these clouds?
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2. SandiaVan
4:05 AM GMT on June 04, 2005
Hmm, the link didn't work. Here is the pic:

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1. SandiaVan
4:02 AM GMT on June 04, 2005
Now I'll be able to spell "Virga" correctly. Very common here in the southwest. (See attached photo)
Thanks for the Blog.

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Category 6™


Cat 6 lead authors: WU cofounder Dr. Jeff Masters (right), who flew w/NOAA Hurricane Hunters 1986-1990, & WU meteorologist Bob Henson, @bhensonweather

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