The Alien Clouds

Tools

by Brooks Putman

 With so many mountains in Alaska we have some exteremly unique features and weather phenomenon that goes on around here. One of those is certain types of clouds! Here is a photo today of Mt. McKinley with some lenticular clouds just sitting at the summit of the mountain.

How do these clouds form? Its actually quite interesting. 

 

The first ingredient is stable moist air flowing over the tops of the mountains. Clearly in Alaska we have plenty of that... On one side of the mountain, air needs to rise and this gives it cooling just enough to condensation to begin and a cloud to form. Once the wind crosses over the mountain it carries the cloud with it up and over. However when the wind decends on the other side of the mountain it warms and the cloud droplets evaporate keeping the cloud on top of the mountain. 

 

Here is a better example of a lenticular cloud from a mountain in New Zealand. Mt. Rainer is also famous for having some incredible lenticular cloud formations. These clouds can also be refered to as the "mothership".

New Zealand

 

So watch for those Lenticular clouds!

 

Ryan Overton

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