Sunday, February 7, 2016

Flying saucers

A welcome invasion by infrequent visitors.

Flying saucers

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One reason we are partial to the mountains is the high drama they conspire to produce through their interactions with the atmosphere.

Under the right conditions, those interactions can generate a bounty of lenticular clouds, those rounded, lens-shaped clouds that can resemble flying saucers.

Actually, they sometimes they have been mistaken for UFOs, but not necessarily for Elvis.

The technical name is altocumulus standing lenticularis, and the clouds are formed by strong winds blowing over the complicated terrain.

We usually don't get to see them often down here in the vicinity of the coastal plain, but we have seen some prowling the skies over the region.

We checked with Tony Gigi, meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Mount Holly, and he suspects the clouds are strays from the Poconos.

Winds in the upper atmophere, at 10,000 and 18,000 feet, are blowing from north to south, and that would explain the lenticular commuting.

Whatever the explanation, come back anytime.

 

Inquirer Weather Columnist
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About this blog

Everyone talks about the weather, and here we write about it.

When we’re around and conditions warrant, we’ll keep you updated about what’s coming, but we will do our best always to discuss weather and climate developments in context and remind you that nothing in the atmosphere happens in a vacuum.

Tony Wood has been writing about the atmosphere for The Inquirer for 26 years.

Reach Tony at twood@phillynews.com.

Tony Wood Inquirer Weather Columnist
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