Lenticular Clouds Look Like UFOs

Enjoy these photos of beautiful lenticular clouds taken in places around the world, and shared with us by our community at EarthSky Facebook and EarthSky Community Photos.

These lens-shaped clouds typically form where stable moist air flows over a mountain or a range of mountains. When this happens, a series of large-scale standing waves may form on the mountain’s downwind side. If the temperature at the crest of the wave drops to the dew point, moisture in the air may condense to form lenticular clouds. As the moist air moves back down into the trough of the wave, the cloud may evaporate back into vapor. So lenticular clouds can appear and disappear relatively quickly. Plus they’re not familiar to people who live in low-lying or flat terrain. And, just to confound things, lenticular clouds have also been known to form in non-mountainous places, as the result of shear winds created by a front. For all of these reasons, lenticular clouds are often mistaken for UFOs (or “visual cover” for UFOs). Enjoy the photos! Thank you to all who posted.

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Saucer-shaped pink cloud, over a snow-covered, craggy mountain.
View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Doug Blaney of Weed, California, captured this image on February 12, 2020. It’s one of many lenticular clouds seen in this area. Weed is about 10 miles (16 km) west-northwest of Mount Shasta, which is one of California’s most famous landmarks. The lenticular clouds near Weed, California, got some press coverage recently. Read about them in the Washington Post. Thanks, Doug!
Pink and blue clouds above a field of yellow-green grass with fence posts.
Wendy Jeffries captured lenticular clouds over a field in Clifden, Connemara, Ireland, on June 3, 2019.
Large, slightly slanted, round flat cloud under undulating, orange cloud layer.
Beautiful shot of lenticular cloud at sunset by Chris Walker in Dayton, Nevada.
Wide multiple-layer lenticular cloud over mountains.
View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Richard Hasbrouck caught this photo in Truchas, New Mexico.
Several lenticular clouds above and beside snow-capped peak.
View at EarthSky Community Photos. | David Roberts caught this photo of lenticular clouds over Mt. Rainier, Washington.
Lenticular cloud with fuzzy cloud above it, trees on horizon.
View larger at EarthSky Community Photos. | Richard Doyle captured this lenticular cloud at Qualicum Beach, British Columbia, Canada.
Two-layer lenticular cloud hovering over stand of trees with grassy field in foreground.
Alba Evangelista Ramos, a Brazilian biologist, captured these rare images of a lenticular cloud from a moving vehicle, near the Haute-Provence Observatory, situated in southeastern France. In this particular case, the “UFO cloud” seems to have been produced by the cold mistral wind that strongly blows over southern France, as it was pushed up the 2,132-foot-high (650-meter-high) plateau of the observatory.

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