in the clouds
April 20, 2007 10:09 AM   Subscribe

Rare and strange cloud formations. Mammatus, lenticular, noctilucent, nacreous, hole in the sky. Basic cloud guide.
posted by nickyskye (45 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
Don't forget chemtrails! They're like clouds, but flavored with sweet, sweet crazy.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 10:12 AM on April 20, 2007


Wow, some beautiful stuff here. Those b/w ones about a third of the way down the first post are stunning.
posted by jbickers at 10:14 AM on April 20, 2007


This is sort of a double.
posted by gsteff at 10:17 AM on April 20, 2007


Clouds Taste Metallic
posted by buriednexttoyou at 10:18 AM on April 20, 2007


glad to learn about those lenticular clouds -- I saw something once that I could not explain, and now I have an idea about what it likely was.
posted by cubby at 10:19 AM on April 20, 2007


Cloud pictures are interesting. That said, there was a guy once who was a semi-professional photographer. He took probably thousands of pictures of cloud formations he found interesting. One day, he had a kind of realization that most all clouds were interesting and there was little point in his trying to obsessively capture them. After that day he never took pictures of cloud formations again.

I like the post, by the way.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:24 AM on April 20, 2007


nice post!
posted by simonemarie at 10:29 AM on April 20, 2007


Quick! Someone alert the Pixies!

Ah well. At least the ground's still cold. Another monkey rapture averted.
posted by nebulawindphone at 10:40 AM on April 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


Cloud pictures are interesting. That said, there was a guy once who was a semi-professional photographer. He took probably thousands of pictures of cloud formations he found interesting. One day, he had a kind of realization that most all clouds were interesting and there was little point in his trying to obsessively capture them. After that day he never took pictures of cloud formations again.

Stieglitz? "Equivalents"?
posted by LionIndex at 10:44 AM on April 20, 2007


Stieglitz? "Equivalents"?

Those are nice, but no. This guy was a random Texan who is probably still alive.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:53 AM on April 20, 2007


That Atmospheric Optics site is absolutely the best of the web. I have spent hours fucking around on there, and actually used it to my advantage when, while drunk on a Thursday night, a busboy at the bar I was drinking at asked me what that weird ring around the moon was.

I was all "It'sh an ishe halo, dude." Booyah.
posted by mckenney at 11:01 AM on April 20, 2007 [3 favorites]


Very cool. I live in the Midwest, where you see a lot of weird cloud formations. Sometimes I just look up in the sky, see some wacked out cloud formation, and say "holy shit!" There's a lot of "holy shit" in this post.
posted by MarshallPoe at 11:14 AM on April 20, 2007


Holy shit
posted by French Fry at 11:20 AM on April 20, 2007


er...does no one else that thinks a lot of these may be photoshopped? You're telling me there's really a sky full of butts floating around there somewhere.
posted by jourman2 at 11:24 AM on April 20, 2007


Nature doesn't need photoshop, dude.
posted by stenseng at 11:27 AM on April 20, 2007


It's really no wonder that less evolved thinkers would think that someone upstairs was trying to tell us something.
posted by Dave Faris at 11:31 AM on April 20, 2007


Mammatus, from the latin, for boobs. Appropriately named. Interesting that jourman sees butts instead though :)
posted by poppo at 11:31 AM on April 20, 2007


mckenney, that's exactly how I feel about the Atmospheric Optics site (of the nacreous link in the post). Though I haven't been blotto while naming the unusual cloud formations, ;-), it's fun to know/share obscure meteorology data wherever one may be. Neat the busboy now knows about an ice halo. Always liked the term sun dog but moon bow, glory, Brocken Spectre, heiligenschein and supernumerary are juicy sky event names.

MarshallPoe, have added holyshit as a tag. It's rightfully an important meteorological descriptor.
posted by nickyskye at 11:34 AM on April 20, 2007


er...does no one else that thinks a lot of these may be photoshopped? You're telling me there's really a sky full of butts floating around there somewhere.

Sky full of breasts is more like it (thus the name mammatus, if you had read the links). And yes, I can assure you they do exist (on the undersides of the anvils of supercells) and they are an indicator of an extremely unstable atmosphere.

Another day with such clouds: here and here (Same day and place).
posted by spock at 11:35 AM on April 20, 2007


Nature doesn't need photoshop, dude.

Nature, shmature. God uses Mario Paint.
posted by Atom Eyes at 11:39 AM on April 20, 2007


Rare and strange cloud formations.

Don't forget chemtrails!

MAN, YOU PEOPLE ARE DENSE!
posted by phaedon at 11:41 AM on April 20, 2007


*runs downstairs, turns oven on*
posted by phaedon at 11:47 AM on April 20, 2007


here you go.
posted by Dave Faris at 11:49 AM on April 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


Beautiful post! Thanks!
posted by Dizzy at 11:49 AM on April 20, 2007


One afternoon when I was in high school there was a big formation of either nacreous or iridescent clouds (I'm not sure which). It was amazing. I don't know if they're more common elsewhere, but you practically never see something like that around here. Everyone just sort of stood and watched them for a good fifteen minutes or so, trying to figure out what was going on.
posted by moss at 11:49 AM on April 20, 2007


Let's not forget the Mighty Clouds of Joy!
posted by Thorzdad at 11:53 AM on April 20, 2007


I've seen a formation of mammatus clouds once, when living in the Chicago suburbs. I remember looking outside, noticing the clouds were strange, and going out onto the apartment balcony. They weren't quite as strong as in these pictures, but it was a strange, wavy pattern - almost like a smoothed out eggshell matress.

It was the strangest cloud formation I've ever seen, and I can still picture them, and recall the eerie, surreal feeling I got when looking up at the sky and seeing it.
posted by evilangela at 12:04 PM on April 20, 2007


The mammatus clouds look exactly like something from a special effects cloud tank in the 80s, like in Ghostbusters. Here I was thinking that those shots looked fake!
posted by brundlefly at 12:23 PM on April 20, 2007


Cloud Appreciation Society
http://www.cloudappreciationsociety.org/
posted by allelopath at 1:21 PM on April 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


There's a hole in the... sky
Through which things can... fly.

posted by Foosnark at 2:30 PM on April 20, 2007


I have seen mammatus clouds (or something very much like them) in Nebraska (apparently others have too). They were striking enough that I got out the camera.
posted by pril at 3:33 PM on April 20, 2007


This one (the fourteenth on the first linked page) is a photo of some nightmarish end-of-the-world event where we're all sucked from the Earth by hagfish-like aliens from a nearby galaxy.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 5:01 PM on April 20, 2007


These clouds rock!
posted by Skygazer at 5:16 PM on April 20, 2007


Love the additional links and photos. Thank you.

The photographer, Jorn Olsen, who took the amazing pic of the mammatus in Hastings, Nebraska apparently has a lovely slideshow of images, dedicated to mammatus clouds.

My real faves are the ominous, dramatic images, like this one.
posted by nickyskye at 5:34 PM on April 20, 2007


Yeah, that one is terrifying. Having grown up in tornado country and many times cowered in closets in fear of one nearby, that photo is something out of my nightmares. In these dreams, I typically look out a window or otherwise spot a tornado—and after a minute or so, realize that it's coming this way. Then I look in another direction, and there's another one.

Thankfully, since the Cold War ended, I no longer have nightmares about looking out the window and seeing a mushroom cloud. I do, however, have similar dreams about seeing planes fall out of the sky.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 5:38 PM on April 20, 2007


aw, EB, sorry you used to have storm nightmares. I love storms, love the weather in general, all kinds. But nightmares aren't fun. Wishing you sweet dreams. :)
posted by nickyskye at 6:59 PM on April 20, 2007


Oh, I love storms, too. Where I grew up there were frequent dramatic thunderstorms in the spring and summer. I love thunderstorms. I like seeing the lightning flash and hearing the thunder shake the windows and house. I especially love hearing the roar of a real downpour on the roof. There weren't many dramatic storms like that during the eight years I lived in Austin. Albuquerque doesn't have as many as where I grew up, but it does have a lot more than Austin. I've enjoyed the weather here. And it's about that time of year, although I've read that it's supposed to be dry here this season.

I know a lot of people who've seen one or more tornadoes. The few times I've been very close to one, I've been hidden in a safer place where I can't see anything. The worst was in a big shopping mall with the tornado across the street.

The psychological environment of these dreams of tornadoes and mushroom clouds is that I see these things first, feel this fear of impending doom, and then I invariably try to alert the people around me to the danger and suggest a means to escape. Pretty easy to tease the meaning out of that. :) But it's also, no doubt, partly about nothing more than that fear of seeing some terrifying threat to one's life that is unpredictable and imminent.

It's interesting how primal, I think, is our sense of violence in storm clouds. Maybe it's learned, though—I don't know. But it's a big violence and I think that when we read what seems to us as quaint descriptions of Zeus throwing thunderbolts we're not really connecting to the sense of awesome, huge, and terrible violence in that conception.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 7:12 PM on April 20, 2007


Whoa. That one looks like Aunt Maggie's butt!

Awesome post. Thank you.
posted by po at 10:55 PM on April 20, 2007


Wow, noctilucent... Who knew? Fabulous world we live in!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:51 AM on April 21, 2007


Saw this one two days ago. I'm at a complete loss to explain it.
posted by moonbird at 5:58 AM on April 21, 2007


Maybe a guy on a skywriting job who got halfway through the letter 'O' before his partner radioed up to the plane to tell him the client hadn't paid up?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:26 AM on April 21, 2007


moonbird, to the best of my knowledge is a parhelion, sundog. (funny to write that when your username is moonbird :)

There was an image in the NOAA photobank of this phenomenon in Asheville, taken in 1971 but the NOAA photo site is misbehaving, so here's a google cache image, the first one. Here's info on the physics of a sundog.
posted by nickyskye at 9:10 AM on April 21, 2007


Nicky, I'm pretty familiar with sundogs, and this was a free-floating cloud (watched it roll with the wind). It was pretty clearly low altitude. It looked like half a smoke ring billowing.
posted by moonbird at 10:47 AM on April 21, 2007


oh wow, so it wasn't a sundog. Guess it may belong to the Wtf Inexplicabla Weirdus type then.
posted by nickyskye at 11:37 AM on April 21, 2007


beautiful

thanks
posted by nicolin at 2:49 AM on April 29, 2007


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