The Jersey Shore sky did a passable imitation of the ocean beneath late Sunday, creating quite a celestial show.
An extraordinary meeting of conditions generated a cloud formation — rare around here — known as an undular bore, the National Weather Service reports.
This high-resolution visible imagery from the GOES-16 satellite captured an unique wave cloud structure called an undular bore that formed off the New Jersey coast late this afternoon. The undular bore formed as rain-cooled air that developed out ahead of a line of showers and thunderstorms (also known as a gust front or outflow boundary) moved off the coast and into stable marine air (because the ocean waters are still very cold).
Posted by US National Weather Service Philadelphia/Mount Holly on Sunday, May 20, 2018
Waves of rolling clouds stretched for 40 to 50 miles between 5 and 7 p.m., Alex Staarmann, a weather service meteorologist, said Monday.
After a week of volatile weather that turned the region into a poor man’s version of the tropics, something like this was bound to happen.
Late Sunday, the weather service said a “gust front” out ahead of a line of the thunderstorms ran smack into chilly, stable air over the Atlantic, where sea-surface temperatures are still in the 50s.
The resulting collision created a ripple effect, said Staarmann, that is similar to what happens when one punches a calm pool of water.
In this case, the ripples were created in the atmosphere, which behaves like a fluid. In the video, you can see the undular bore show up like separating stripes on the outer edge of the cloud bank as it moved out to sea.
“A bore is kind of like a shallow water wave,” Staarmann said.
Staarmann said he had seen these formations in his native South Carolina, but they are rare around here.
And to cloud connoisseurs, anything but boring.