Kelvin-Helmholtz Clouds

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Here in Montana we are spoiled with spectacular clouds.

We range from disk-like lenticulars, to Chinook arches, to breaktaking super cells, like this one in Glasgow.
We also will see a very rare formation sometimes, called a Kelvin-Helmholtz wave cloud, which looks like waves crashing on the shore at a beach.

These breathtaking clouds are short lived, lasting a few seconds to a few minutes before they disappear.

Yet if you are looking, the crashing wave pattern is most frequently spotted in high level clouds, but keep your eye to the horizon too, as it is possible for wave conditions to form in low level clouds as well.

Now for the big question, how are they formed?

These waves occur in stable conditions, when a layer of warm air is sitting on top of a layer of cold air.

Suddenly, fast winds blow horizontally thru the warm air, pushing the tops of the clouds over, and much like a wave on the shore, the top will move much faster than the bottom.

This pulls the top of the cloud layer horizontally and then sends it crashing down into the cold layer, forming our tall tale wave.

And now you're a little bit more weather wise.

Story by AUSTIN WINFIELD, Beartooth NBC.
Sponsored by Collision Pro of Helena.
Copyright ©2014 Beartooth Communications Company. All Rights Reserved.

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Weather Wise, Clouds

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