Strange cloud formations

The arc of a fogbow in Ozawkie. Photo by Becky Lassiter.

Over the last several days, we’ve been treated to not only pleasant temperatures, but some interesting formations in the clouds. Several times on Sunday, waves rippled through the cloud cover. It has continued into Monday, as well, as evidenced by satellite. However, Monday’s wave formations were on top of the clouds and not visible from underneath the cloud cover.

Satellite from early Monday afternoon showing the rippled cloud cover.
Satellite from early Monday afternoon showing the rippled cloud cover.

The better display from the surface was viewed Sunday evening around the Manhattan area. Several viewers sent me photos showing the type of cloud we group as a type of wave clouds. The technical name of “altostratus undulatus” is basically a mid-level cloud that is stretched out in a layer, but has undulating wave features. Imagine dropping a rock into a pond, but instead of the ripples on the pond surface, we see the ripples through the cloud cover.

However, Sunday’s clouds were more striped across the sky.

Clouds over Manhattan Sunday evening. Photo by Rachelle Brooks.
Clouds over Manhattan Sunday evening. Photo by Rachelle Brooks.
Clouds over Manhattan Sunday evening. Photo by Betty Stevens.
Clouds over Manhattan Sunday evening. Photo by Betty Stevens.

What made these look so striped over the sky? Well, as the air rises into the wave, it cools and the cloud thickens. However, as it sinks to the bottom of the wave, the temperatures warm a bit. In this case, that was just enough to eat up the cloud and clear it out. The end result was stripes of clear and cloudy over the sky.

However, there was more than just wave clouds this weekend putting on a show. In Ozawkie, fog blanketed the area and produce a rare fogbow. The light hit the patch of fog, but since fog droplets are so much smaller than raindrops, it was unable to effectively separate the colors into a rainbow. Instead, the end result is a “white rainbow,” or fogbow that developed.

The arc of a fogbow in Ozawkie. Photo by Becky Lassiter.
The arc of a fogbow in Ozawkie. Photo by Becky Lassiter.

 

– Storm Track Chief Meteorologist Matt Miller

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