Eery Mammatus Cloud Pictures

Some clouds can be very strange and these cool pictures of Mammatus clouds show just how bizarre! Mammatus are pouch-like cloud structures and a rare example of clouds in sinking air.

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Sometimes very ominous in appearance, mammatus clouds are harmless and do not mean that a tornado is about to form; a commonly held misconception. In fact, mammatus are usually seen after the worst of a thunderstorm has passed.

As updrafts carry precipitation enriched air to the cloud top, upward momentum is lost and the air begins to spread out horizontally, becoming a part of the anvil cloud. Because of its high concentration of precipitation particles (ice crystals and water droplets), the saturated air is heavier than the surrounding air and sinks back towards the earth.

The temperature of the subsiding air increases as it descends. However, since heat energy is required to melt and evaporate the precipitation particles contained within the sinking air, the warming produced by the sinking motion is quickly used up in the evaporation of precipitation particles. If more energy is required for evaporation than is generated by the subsidence, the sinking air will be cooler than its surroundings and will continue to sink downward.

4 Comments

  • Reply June 27, 2008

    M. Dolores

    Quite strange and beautiful. They are like umbilical cords… Nature is really surprinig… Thanks to the author, I had never seen this kindof clouds.

    Regards from Madrid – Spain. Lola.

  • Reply July 3, 2008

    evan

    how long does that last?

  • Reply May 9, 2009

    Anonymous

    Now I know after all the years what type of clouds I saw one late afternoon in late’70’s. I went to get my camera and by the time I found it the clouds were gone

  • Reply July 19, 2010

    Jocuri gratis

    Fantastic. Am ramas fara cuvinte!

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