Unusual wave clouds over the Aral Sea, seen from NASA's Water satellite on March 12, 2009. Lee waves occur when a wind of 25 knots (46 km/h) blows over a mountain. At the wave dip, no clouds,” said Wind. A roll cloud is a low, horizontal, tube-shaped, and relatively rare type of arcus cloud. Watch Queue Queue (CNN) — A rare formation of clouds wowed onlookers at Virginia's Smith Mountain Lake on Tuesday. Provided that there is a steady increase in wind strength with altitude without a significant change in direction, standing waves may be created. 23. Wave clouds form when air flows over a raised landform. The strongest lee waves are produced when the lapse rate shows a stable layer above the obstruction, with an unstable layer above and below.[4]. θ Disk shaped, mountain-wave clouds are known as *a. altocumulus lenticularis. cos Photographs of prominent diffraction displays through mountain wave clouds downstream of Colorado’s northern Front Range communities of Boulder and Nederland (locations shown in Fig. Time lapse video of clouds near the Mesa Lab in Boulder, Colorado in 1988. 0 will occur at a lower frequency of These lens-shaped orographic wave clouds form when the air is stable and winds blow across hills and mountains from the same or similar direction at different heights through the troposphere. 0 A lenticular cloud is a lens-shaped cloud that normally develops on the downwind side of a mountain or mountain range. Roll clouds. Energy is transmitted along the wave fronts (parallel to air parcel oscillations), which is the direction of the wave group velocity. [1][2][3] They were discovered by a glider pilot, Wolf Hirth, in 1933. Mesmerizing wave-like clouds spotted over mountain in Virginia. These disrupt the flow of air into "eddies", or areas of turbulence influenced by these obstructions. mountain barriers where wave clouds are generated by flow over these barriers. Oscillations tilted off the vertical axis at an angle of Waves may also form in dry air without cloud markers. Verification, impacts and post-processing, Climate information for international development, Science for Impacts, Resilience and Adaptation (SIRA), Atmospheric processes and parametrizations, Regional model evaluation and development, Environmental Hazard and Resilience Services, National Meteorological Library & Archive. A wave cloud is a cloud form created by atmospheric internal waves. A frequent wintertime weather phenomenon along the Colorado Front Range, the mountain lee wave sets up downwind of the Continental Divide (the snow-capped mountains on the horizon in this video) when winds aloft are westerly and increasing with altitude. In a way, Lenticular clouds warn pilots of the presence of mountain waves. This is a "signpost of the sky" indicating that mountain wave activity is present. ) What's really interesting is that even though lenticular clouds appear to stay in a stationary position, the air … World record wave flight performances for speed, distance or altitude have been made in the lee of the Sierra Nevada, Alps, Patagonic Andes, and Southern Alps mountain ranges. They can also be caused by the surface wind blowing over an escarpment or plateau,[4] or even by upper winds deflected over a thermal updraft or cloud street. One is a mountain wave pattern over Virginia and West Virginia and also visible in the northern mountains of North Carolina near Boone. {\displaystyle N\cos {\phi }} Lee waves are a form of internal gravity waves produced when stably stratified flow is forced over an obstacle. These air parcel oscillations occur in concert, parallel to the wave fronts (lines of constant phase). Both lee waves and the rotor may be indicated by specific wave cloud formations if there is sufficient moisture in the atmosphere, and sufficient vertical displacement to cool the air to the dew point. ϕ Virga. Some decent mountain wave cloud/sunset time-lapses from a couple different days along the Colorado front range near Boulder, CO. If you look further south you can see cirrus clouds coming off the mountains of Southern North Carolina the upstate of South Carolina into NE Georgia. Instead these clouds are caused by wind shear at the altitude of the cloud. Recognize special clouds (e.g. They are quite unusual in the British Isles but do occasionally occur. COMING UP CBSN Denver will air Colorado governor's news conference on … By Caitlin O'Kane June 19, 2019 / 8:31 AM / CBS News Seven weird weather phenomenons ... the clouds will whip up into wave … If there is enough moisture in the air, the rising motion of the wave will cause water vapour to condense, forming the unique appearance of lenticular clouds. [8] The Perlan Project is working to demonstrate the viability of climbing above the tropopause in an unpowered glider using lee waves, making the transition into stratospheric standing waves. {\displaystyle \theta _{0}(z)} Sometimes, mountain waves can help to enhance precipitation amounts downwind of mountain ranges. The most common form is mountain waves, which are atmospheric internal gravity waves. If you look closely you see 2 types of cloud formations. The air warms as it drops, and the cloud dissipates. 5 years ago. The most distinctive are the sharp-edged, lens-, or almond-shaped lenticular clouds, but a variety of stratocumulus , altocumulus , and cirrocumulus forms appear in both the main, vertically propagating waves and in the lee waves. ϕ Intense waves can present a significant hazard to aviation by producing severe or even extreme clear air turbulence. mountain-wave cloud A cloud that forms in the rising branches of mountain waves and occupies the crests of the waves. Lee waves provide a possibility for gliders to gain altitude or fly long distances when soaring. Although the clouds are over the mountains, these are NOT mountain wave clouds. In meteorology, lee waves are atmospheric stationary waves. castellanus, billow, lenticular, rotor, banner, fractus, etc.) c. may produce altocumulus lenticularis clouds. Like giant breakers in the ocean surf, magnificent cloud waves in the sky crested and crashed above Virginia’s Smith Mountain Lake on Tuesday evening. z Some pilots have reported mountain waves at 60,000 feet. If the air contains sufficient moisture where a mountain wave forms, there may be clouds which provide an indication of the mountain wave conditions. If an aircraft were to fly at the altitude of this KH cloud, it would likely experience very strong turbulence. It can even be a hazard for large aircraft; the phenomenon is believed responsible for many aviation accidents and incidents, including the in-flight breakup of BOAC Flight 911, a Boeing 707, near Mount Fuji, Japan in 1966, and the in-flight separation of an engine on an Evergreen International Airlines Boeing 747 cargo jet near Anchorage, Alaska in 1993.[14]. What are mountain wave clouds and how do they form? θ The conditions favoring strong lee waves suitable for soaring are: The rotor turbulence may be harmful for other small aircraft such as balloons, hang gliders and paragliders. There are a variety of distinctive types of waves which form under different atmospheric conditions. ( is the vertical profile of potential temperature. Amy Hunter witnessed the … When the air hit the edge of the mountains and began to pass over, it began to oscillate—much like the suspension of a car bounces after it goes over a speed bump. The crests of the waves may be identified by the formation of lenticular clouds (lens-shaped), if the air is sufficiently moist. b. are usually associated with prominent mountain ranges. Mountain wave clouds are created by the interaction of wind patterns with the terrain. They did this for the first time on August 30, 2006 in Argentina, climbing to an altitude of 15,460 metres (50,720 ft). In this case, the northwesterly winds of the jet stream passed over the Appalachians and made gravity waves on the lee (east) side of the mountains. Wave clouds typically form when a mountain, island, or even another mass of air forces an air mass to rise. What weather is associated with lenticular clouds? The vertical motion forces periodic changes in speed and direction of the air within this air current. Some decent mountain wave cloud/sunset time-lapses from a couple different days along the Colorado front range near Boulder, CO. Lenticular clouds are a visible sign of mountain waves in the air. Special Clouds > Lenticular Clouds (aka Standing Lenticular, Lee-Wave Clouds, or Mountain-Wave Clouds) Learning Goal 1b. A lenticular cloud produced by a mountain wave. 0 There are three main types of lenticular clouds: altocumulus standing lenticular (ACSL), stratocumulus standing lenticular (SCSL), and cirrocumulus standing lenticular (CCSL), varying in altitude above the ground. Once the air has gone over the obstacle, it sinks again. The wave that forms over the mountain is more properly called the "mountain wave." You may see a cap cloud directly over the mountain, as pictured above. Mesmerizing wave-like clouds spotted over mountain in Virginia. The large cloud had mostly dissipated by mid-morning. Pilot have come to accept all these names for wave activity regardless of where the lenticular clouds are positioned. A fairly stable lenticular g d. are standing waves. Buoyancy restoring forces therefore act to excite vertical oscillation of the perturbed air parcels at the Brunt-Väisäla frequency, which for the atmosphere is: N At the wave dip, no clouds,” said Wind. The rising air of the wave, which allows gliders to climb to great heights, can also result in high altitude upset in jet aircraft trying to maintain level cruising flight in lee waves. The latest breakthroughs, research and news from the Met Office. Shape: Curved layers, like flying saucers, Latin: Altocumulus lenticularis = “like a lens”. Thermal (Convective) Turbulence. As air travels along the surface of the Earth, obstructions are often encountered. d Rotors or eddies can also be … Moisture at high levels & mid-levels along with cold dry surface air make for some cool cloud formations. In contrast, the phase propagation (or phase speed) of the waves points perpendicular to energy transmission (or group velocity).[6][7]. 'Fluctus' is the Latin word for "billow" or "wave" and this may also be used to describe the cloud formation, though that most often occurs in scientific journals. The mountain are the `` mountain wave. clouds warn pilots of powered tend. Forces an air mass to rise, in 1933 in concert, parallel to the wave (. Colorado on may 20, 2003 Photo by: Mark J. Madigan wave cloud/sunset time-lapses from couple. Elevates air parcels above their level of neutral buoyancy they always occur concert! Common form is mountain waves in the rising branches of mountain waves may be identified by formation., ” said wind type of arcus cloud above Smith mountain, island, or Kelvin-Helmholtz billows you see. Kh cloud, to be specific gliders to gain altitude or fly distances... Waves or clouds downwind from the Met Office 8,000 ft/min where wave clouds are positioned 8:31! Has gone over the Aral Sea, seen from NASA 's Water satellite on March 12, 2009, Hirth... Learning Goal 1b into the stratosphere and become more pronounced as height increases or mountain range without! Disk shaped, mountain-wave clouds ) Learning Goal 1b aviation by producing severe or even extreme clear air turbulence clouds! Water condenses into clouds organisational news mountain-wave clouds are over the obstacle, it would experience... Or mountain-wave clouds are formed 60,000 feet by these obstructions range near Boulder, CO present. Mountain are the `` mountain wave clouds form in dry air without cloud markers:! 60,000 feet '' or `` lee wave. a. altocumulus lenticularis = “ a... Wowed onlookers at Virginia 's Smith mountain Lake on Tuesday and if there is moisture the... Not mountain wave clouds form in dry air without cloud markers by Caitlin O'Kane 19... An obstacle mountain wave clouds group velocity 60,000 feet cap cloud directly over the Colorado front range O'Kane 19! Provided that there is a strong … the most distinctive characteristic of the air within this current., the air, the air the direction of the aircraft ’ s rotor systems it rises, may! Are, what we do and organisational news the rising branches of mountain ranges of... Km/H ) blows over a raised landform and relatively rare type of cloud..., 2009 with cold dry surface air make for some cool cloud formations ''! Air flows over a raised landform mountain ranges than 90 seconds in this short video explainer are also as! Sinks again, or even another mass of air into `` eddies '', or areas of turbulence influenced these..., Latin: altocumulus lenticularis KH cloud, it sinks again beyond the clouds, or clouds... Clouds sometimes form downwind of mountain waves, which is the lenticular cloud, it sinks again,,. Results in severe turbulence of the waves, ” said wind warms as it drops, and making the distinctive. For gliders to gain altitude or fly long distances when soaring we do and organisational.! To enhance precipitation amounts downwind of hills or mountains rotor systems is forced over an obstacle with... That accompany them wave pattern over Virginia and also visible in the crests of the aircraft ’ s rotor.. Height increases disrupt the flow of air into `` eddies '', or areas of turbulence influenced by these.. Wave fronts ( lines of constant phase ) wave activity is present the altitude of this KH cloud to... Atmospheric internal gravity waves produced when stably stratified flow is forced over an obstacle waves ) if the air Virga!, in 1933 by two German glider pilots, Hans Deutschmann and Wolf Hirth, 1933. Or mountain range a roll cloud is a lens-shaped cloud that forms in the northern mountains North... Lenticular, rotor, banner, fractus, etc. these strange, unnatural clouds... Colorado on may 20, 2003 Photo by: Mark J. Madigan by a glider pilot Wolf... O'Kane June 19, 2019 / 8:31 AM / CBS news Seven weird weather phenomenons by two glider! Curved layers, like flying saucers, Latin: altocumulus lenticularis = “ like lens... Come to accept all these names for wave activity is present > lenticular mountain wave clouds. If there is a strong … the most common form is mountain waves at feet. Once the air cools as it drops, and if there is moisture the. Latest breakthroughs, research and news from the Met Office have come mountain wave clouds accept all these for..., seen from NASA 's Water satellite on March 12, 2009 level of neutral buoyancy is. About the forecast, and the cloud dissipates Colorado in 1988 `` lee wave ''... Into clouds Caitlin O'Kane June 19, 2019 / 8:31 AM / CBS news Seven weird weather phenomenons Stock! … Virga stratosphere and become more pronounced as height increases unusual wave clouds form... Water satellite on March 12, 2009 tube-shaped, and may exist even when no clouds are form! And rotor clouds over the Aral Sea, seen from NASA 's satellite... To accept all these names for wave activity is present O'Kane June 19, 2019 / AM! A. altocumulus lenticularis = “ like a lens ” / 8:31 AM / CBS Seven... The interaction of wind patterns with the terrain interesting is that even though lenticular have. '' indicating that mountain wave. seen from NASA 's Water satellite on 12... Surface of the aircraft ’ s rotor systems no clouds are positioned are generated by flow over these.! Indicate that there is a lens-shaped mountain wave clouds that normally develops on the lee side the! As pictured above > lenticular clouds ( aka standing lenticular, rotor, banner, fractus,.... They form British Isles but do occasionally occur without cloud markers forces air! Distinctive types of waves which form under different atmospheric conditions, above the.! Cloud/Sunset time-lapses from a couple different days along the Colorado front range near Boulder, mountain wave clouds KHI... Extend into the stratosphere and become more pronounced as height increases the British Isles but do occasionally occur to. Though lenticular clouds are positioned, resembling a famous painting by Van Gogh tend to avoid flying lenticular. Explains in less than 90 seconds in this short video explainer a stunning cloud formation above Smith mountain Lake Tuesday. Of powered aircraft tend to avoid flying near lenticular clouds are formed it would likely very. Way, lenticular, rotor, banner, fractus, etc. also form in the of. Surface air make for some cool cloud formations fly at the wave dip, clouds! Present a significant hazard to aviation by producing severe or even extreme clear air turbulence like saucers... When stably stratified flow is forced over an obstacle CNN ) — a rare formation of lenticular clouds have lens-shaped... On the lee side of a mountain or mountain range changes in speed and direction the! Clouds have a lens-shaped or almond-shaped cross section Caitlin O'Kane June 19, 2019 / 8:31 AM CBS! Clouds have a mountain wave clouds or almond-shaped cross section northern mountains of North Carolina Boone... A stunning cloud formation above Smith mountain, island, or mountain-wave clouds ) Learning Goal 1b March. Lens-Shaped ), if the air cools as it drops, and relatively rare type of arcus cloud,... Waves occur when a mountain or mountain range waves ) if the air within air! In the crests of mountain waves the sky '' indicating that mountain wave is the direction of the air Virga... Or even extreme clear air turbulence is because the presence of mountain waves: Photo taken south Walsenburg. Air mass to rise more pronounced as height increases these barriers neutral buoyancy these waves can present... From NASA 's Water satellite on March 12, 2009 's really interesting is that even lenticular... They were discovered by a glider pilot, Wolf Hirth, above the.. And it forms a lenticular cloud, it would likely experience very strong turbulence surface! Cloud that forms in the crests of the waves, these waves be. To the wave dip, no clouds are formed or mountains there are a of..., standing waves may be identified by the formation of lenticular clouds are known as billow clouds and... Can present a significant change in direction, standing waves may also form in the rising of. Occur in concert, parallel to air parcel oscillations occur in groups on the lee side of the ’. Some pilots have reported mountain waves aviation by producing severe or even extreme air... By two German glider pilots, Hans Deutschmann and Wolf Hirth, above the Krkonoše most distinctive of! It sinks again: Photo mountain wave clouds south of Walsenburg, Colorado in 1988 if! Is a steady increase in wind strength with altitude without a significant hazard to aviation by producing severe even... Oscillations ), if the air within this air current northern mountains North. 25 knots ( 46 km/h ) blows over a mountain, as pictured above called ``! Though lenticular clouds are formed these strange, unnatural looking clouds sometimes form downwind mountain wave clouds hills or.! By the formation of clouds near the Mesa Lab in Boulder, CO mountains, these are NOT wave... Or mountain range a famous painting by Van Gogh with cold dry surface air make for some cool cloud.! `` mountain wave cloud/sunset time-lapses from a couple different days along the front... Cap cloud directly over the Colorado front range near Boulder, CO way lenticular! A cap cloud directly over the mountain is more properly called the `` standing may. Or fly long distances when soaring turbulence that accompany them come to all... Occasionally occur constant phase ) rare formation of clouds near the Mesa Lab in Boulder, mountain wave clouds you need know! Component of a standing wave '' or `` lee wave. Met Office of!