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Lenticular cloud

lenticular clouds, lenticular cloud formation
Lenticular clouds Altocumulus lenticularis in Latin are stationary clouds that form in the troposphere, typically in perpendicular alignment to the wind direction They are often comparable in appearance to a lens or saucer

There are three main types of lenticular clouds: altocumulus standing lenticular ACSL, stratocumulus standing lenticular SCSL, and cirrocumulus standing lenticular CCSL, varying in altitude above the ground Because of their unique appearance, they have been brought forward as an explanation for some unidentified flying object UFO sightings


  • 1 Formation and appearance
  • 2 Flight
  • 3 See also
  • 4 Notes
  • 5 References
  • 6 External links

Formation and appearance

As air travels along the surface of the Earth, obstructions are often encountered These include both natural features of the Earth, such as mountains or hills, and man-made structures, such as buildings and other structures These disrupt the flow of air into "eddies", or areas of turbulence influenced by these obstructions

When moist, stable air flows over a larger eddie, like those caused by mountains, a series of large-scale standing waves form on the leeward side of the mountain If the temperature at the crest of the wave drops below the local dew point, moisture in the air may condense to form lenticular clouds Under certain conditions, long strings of lenticular clouds can form near the crest of each successive wave, creating a formation known as a "wave cloud" These wave systems can produce large updrafts, occasionally enough for water vapour to condense and produce precipitation

Lenticular clouds have been mistaken for UFOs or "visual cover" for UFOs, particularly in the shape of a "flying saucer", because these clouds have a characteristic lens appearance and smooth saucer-like shape; also, because lenticular clouds generally do not form over low-lying or flat terrain, many people may have never seen one before and don't know that they can exist Bright colours called iridescence are sometimes seen along the edge of lenticular clouds


Pilots of powered aircraft tend to avoid flying near lenticular clouds because of the turbulence of the rotor systems that accompany them, but glider pilots actively seek them out The precise location of the rising air mass is fairly easy to predict from the orientation of the clouds "Wave lift" of this kind is often very smooth and strong, and enables gliders to soar to remarkable altitudes and to great distances As of 2016 the gliding world records for both distance over 3,000 km; 1,864 mi and absolute altitude 15,460 m; 50,721 ft were set using such lift

See also

  • Pileus meteorology, or cap cloud


  1. ^ Lenticular clouds have also been known to form in cases where a mountain does not exist, but rather as the result of shear winds created by a front


  1. ^ "Altocumulus Standing Lenticular Clouds" National Weather Service NOAA Retrieved 9 March 2018 
  2. ^ "Lenticular clouds look like UFOs" EarthSky 
  3. ^ Atmospheric Optics: Iridescent Clouds
  4. ^ "Gliding World Records" Retrieved 2016-02-01 

External links

  • Time Lapse Video of Lenticular Clouds
  • Standing Lenticular Clouds
  • BBC image gallery of lenticular clouds over Yorkshire in 2011
  • Lenticular cloud seen from Palm Desert, California, in April 2008
  • kcoccocom Altocumulus Lenticular Clouds, Wasatch Mountains, Utah
  • NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day: Picture of the Day 2009-01-21: A lenticular Cloud over New Zealand 21 January 2009
  • Sistek, Scott "Mt Rainier puts on a show!" KOMONewscom Retrieved 2008-12-11 
  • NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day: Lenticular Clouds near Mt Ranier, Washington, USA 3 February 2009
  • San Francisco's Richmond District 2007: "Lennies" attacking the Richmond

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Lenticular cloud

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