- Recently, a woman from Virginia took a photo of rare clouds that look like perfectly shaped ocean waves. She posted the photo to her Facebook page, and it went viral.
- The special clouds are called Kelvin-Helmholtz instability waves.
- The Kelvin-Helmholtz instability waves are just one of many cloud phenomena that can create mind-blowing shapes in the sky.
- Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more stories.
On Tuesday evening, a Virginia woman captured a breathtaking photo of wave-like clouds. Amy Christie Hunter posted the rare cloud sighting on her Facebook page, and the photo quickly went viral, according to the Washington Post.
The clouds, which look like perfectly sculpted ocean waves, are apparently known as Kelvin-Helmholtz instability waves, according to EarthSky.org. The rare but beautiful waves can form in the sky due to velocity and density differences in the air, according to the same website.
“You’ll often see the characteristic wave structure in this type of cloud when two different layers of air in our atmosphere are moving at different speeds,” says EarthSky.org.
Here are 13 other instances of rare clouds captured at the perfect moment.
The wave clouds look even more stunning over the ocean.
The stunning Kelvin-Helmholtz cloud shapes can “crash” and disappear quickly, according to Rutgers University’s Institute of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences.
Asperitas clouds have a Van Gogh-like quality.
These clouds look like marshmallows falling from the sky.
They’re technically called mammatus clouds, and according to BBC, they’re formed upside-down due to “sinking pockets of cold, moist air.” These puffy clouds can form during, before, or after a storm, according to EarthSky.org.
Mammatus clouds form when sinking air is cooler than the surrounding air, according to EarthSky.org.
BBC describes mammatus clouds “pouch-like protrusions.”
Mammatus clouds can also form when a thunderstorm cloud becomes turbulent.
This stunning image was captured by space and sky photographer Alan Dyer and is featured on NASA’s blog. The photo’s description on the NASA website points out all the incredible elements of the shot, like the moon that’s visible on the far right, and how the sunset adds a rainbow of colours to the storm cloud.
This anvil cloud — also known as a cumulonimbus cloud— could easily be mistaken for a Bob Ross painting.
The anvil cloud, technically called a cumulonimbus cloud, forms “due to vigorous rising and overturning of warm, moist, and unstable air,” according to NASA.
Lenticular clouds create unique, rounded shapes that can look like UFOs.
Lenticular clouds most commonly form over mountains, and can appear and disappear quickly, according to EarthSky.org.
Some lenticular clouds can even appear to be “stacked” like pancakes.
Lenticular clouds are also different from other types of clouds because they stay in one place instead of moving through the sky, according to a report from AccuWeather.
These heart-shaped clouds almost look Photoshopped.
According to NASA, some previous occurrences of heart-shaped clouds have been identified as lenticular clouds.
This cloud looks like a meteorite.
We don’t know the science behind this specific cloud, but it’s breathtaking nonetheless.
This sunset shot features a phenomenon known as virga, where precipitation evaporates before reaching the Earth’s surface, making for a curtain-like effect.
According to BBC, virga is not its own type of cloud, but rather a “supplementary feature” that forms when rain or snow evaporates before hitting the Earth’s surface. Instances of virga are commonly seen in the desert, according to BBC.
Virga clouds can sometimes look like jellyfish.
Per the BBC, “virga” means “shaft” or “branch.”
There’s also a special type of cloud that glows in the night sky.
Noctilucent clouds shine in the dark night sky and can be spotted in places with high latitudes from May through August in the Northern Hemisphere, and from November through February in the Southern Hemisphere, according to EarthSky.org.
- Read more:
- 22 of the best photos of stars, galaxies, and space taken this year
- The most breathtaking natural wonder in every state
- 15 stunning photos of the world at night
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