Kelvin-Helmholtz Wave Cloud

December 28, 2012

This was an absolutely perfect example of a Kelvin-Hemholtz Wave Cloud, but by the time I found my camera it was falling apart. You can still see the waves, though. I’ve seen better examples out here in New Mexico so I’m sure I’ll post another soon.

This particular cloud formation was named after the¬†German physicist Hermann von Helmholtz and British physicist¬†Lord Kelvin. The clouds are formed when two separate layers of air are moving past each other at different speeds, so you can understand how the formation might fall apart quickly if you’re running frantically through the house searching for your camera. When the layers are moving past each other, the top layer moves faster. Some parts move up and others move down. they look like a series of crashing ocean waves. Once you see one in the sky, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. They are very easy to distinguish and really quite fun. Sometimes there are only six or seven waves, but I’ve seen lines of 12 or more. They are considered one of the more unusual cloud formations, but as I’ve said before, in the New Mexico desert I often spot unusual cloud formations! If you’ve seen the crashing wave cloud, please leave a comment below and tell me about your experience. I’d love to hear about it!

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