Mammatus clouds lead to spectacular views

Mammatus clouds after the May 14, 2018 derecho
Published: Jul. 21, 2022 at 5:23 PM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - The Mammatus cloud, looking like a bubble or a balloon, or pouches. Typically these kind of clouds form at the bottom of the anvil in a cumulonimbus cloud. It’s very common for these kind of clouds to be associated with thunderstorms but typically when you see these, the storm has already passed or you may see them from a distant storm. So it’s not a precursor or a storm moving in.

These can also form without a thunderstorm but typically you would see them with a thunderstorm nearby.

These clouds can form when water droplets from the anvil of a storm starts to sink, and that evaporates as it falls into drier air. That evaporation cools the air and has this sinking effect that you can see.

As these clouds spread out, they allow warm air to move upwards into the bottom of the cloud. Warm air rises and cold air sinks, so when warm air rises upward into the cloud, parts of the cloud begin to sink as they stay cooler than some other parts of the cloud. This creates the pouch pattern they have.

While these clouds are associated with thunderstorms, they are harmless. They are much more vibrant when coupled with brilliant colors at sunset.

Or sunrise! The photos were not only from a sunrise in 2020 but this happened in December.

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