A glorious morning
February 18, 2009 1:17 PM   Subscribe

The Morning Glory might be the coolest cloud on the planet.

It crosses the Gulf of Carpentaria in northern Australia on many mornings in September and October. It can be 1000 kilometers long, two kilometers high, travel at least 60 km per hour and can be seen from space. Glider pilots gather in tiny, remote Burketown QLD hoping to “surf” the cloud. Here's a short documentary (30 minutes; best footage is in part 4).

This kind of cloud also forms—with less predictability—over Sable Island, Canada, and off the coast of Western Australia.
posted by rtha (25 comments total) 37 users marked this as a favorite

 
So many layers of awesome. Thanks for this.
posted by dabitch at 1:20 PM on February 18, 2009


Heavenly! I half expected to see Care Bears commuting on that thing in their little Cloud Cars.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 1:24 PM on February 18, 2009 [3 favorites]


Just staggeringly glorious. Unfortunately and of course, it happens on the other side of the planet. Definitely want to see it for myself.
posted by nikitabot at 1:26 PM on February 18, 2009


Cloud cover as seen from a plane can definitely be awesome. I had the great privilege of witnessing this scene while flying to Anchorage in 2001.
posted by netbros at 1:33 PM on February 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


This one is the apex of awesome. Now I want to go looking for aerial views of river systems in the outback.
posted by ooga_booga at 1:35 PM on February 18, 2009


this being the internet I was expecting a phallus-shaped cloud.
posted by krautland at 1:41 PM on February 18, 2009


Coolest thing off the planet, you mean! click
posted by frecklefaerie at 1:44 PM on February 18, 2009


In the "glider pilots" link, someone notes that you don't want to fall out the back of the cloud, where the turbulence is tremendous. If your glider doesn't get ripped to bits entirely, it will probably be so damaged that you'll have to land...in a huge, remote, roadless expanse inhabited by crocodiles, and hope someone comes looking for you before you get eaten!
posted by rtha at 1:46 PM on February 18, 2009


So incredible! That totally looks like something out of The Neverending Story. I sort of expect to see Falkor barrelling past. (Yes. I went there.)
posted by sarabeth at 2:07 PM on February 18, 2009


Nice photos. From the YouTube it looks like you meant "Hang Glider Pilots," not "Glider pilots?"
posted by jckll at 2:23 PM on February 18, 2009


Well, both hang-gliders and (plane?) gliders use the cloud. The hang-glider video had better footage than the (plane) glider ones I came across. It was shorthand.
posted by rtha at 2:40 PM on February 18, 2009


That's awesome!
posted by puddinghead at 2:41 PM on February 18, 2009


Amazing that this exists on the same planet as [insert your favorite lame thing here] (I'd say "reality TV").
posted by yiftach at 3:07 PM on February 18, 2009


Hmm - was this the inspiration for the smoke monster in Lost, or perhaps the weird thing in Donnie Darko? Awesome, either way.
posted by Chunder at 3:11 PM on February 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


...might be the coolest cloud on the planet.

For my money, Lenticular Clouds are cooler.
posted by eclectist at 3:21 PM on February 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wow it's like Kaneda hit the brakes on his motorycyle in the sky.
posted by turgid dahlia at 3:35 PM on February 18, 2009


Oh that is pretty. I like it!
posted by SneakyArab at 4:27 PM on February 18, 2009


beautiful
posted by tiamat at 4:46 PM on February 18, 2009


Wow, I had no idea. very cool!
posted by Xoebe at 4:46 PM on February 18, 2009


Terrific post!
posted by languagehat at 4:57 PM on February 18, 2009


It's all about mammatus clouds.
posted by obvious at 4:57 PM on February 18, 2009


Some of the most amazing cloud formations I've ever seen, I saw when I lived in Australia. O lucky country!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:10 PM on February 18, 2009


What's the story, morning glory?
posted by Halloween Jack at 5:25 PM on February 18, 2009


Very cool.
posted by marginaliana at 7:25 AM on February 19, 2009


Previously.
posted by tellurian at 5:27 PM on February 19, 2009


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