Wind Shear Makes Tsunami Shaped Clouds Over Alabama

Wind Shear Makes Tsunami Shaped Clouds

Something interesting happened in the skies of Alabama recently. You might say that it made waves even. Wave shaped clouds. It’s an effect known as “Kelvin-Helmholtz” instability. It creates what appear to be slow-moving waves, like those in the ocean, but in this case they are in the sky.

So what causes this amazing phenomenon? When wind is moving at different speeds at different altitudes the upper parts of cloud strata are moving faster than the lower. This causes the wave-like effect. So don’t worry, it is not the end of the world. We may not see it often, but it isn’t new. It’s not even confined to this planet, as we’ve seen it on Saturn’s clouds as well.

It must have been a beautiful sight in person and of course much safer than actual Tsunami waves. Still, I’m sure it gave residents a bit of a fright after dealing with the devastating tsunami waves from Hurricane Katrina a few years back.

1 Comment on "Wind Shear Makes Tsunami Shaped Clouds Over Alabama"

  1. Jon Morgan-Parker | March 18, 2013 at 2:29 pm | Reply

    I have seen this effect ikn the skies above uk/Cheshire. But not on such a large scale as you are showing here and the effect was quite high above the horizon.

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