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Interesting clouds in our skies today

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TUCSON - Many viewers emailed pics of strange looking clouds in our skies today, wondering which type of cloud they were seeing.

The answer to this question is lenticular clouds.

A lenticular cloud is a "lens-shaped" cloud that often develops on the downwind side of a mountain or mountain range.


Photo Courtesy: Connie Sullivan. Sonoita, AZ

They form when when stable, moist air flows over a mountain, creating a series of waves. They are typically found at high altitudes where moisture is moving into the region.

Often times they take on the actual shape of the mountain it crosses over, As the stable air is unable to rise, the winds act as the muscle, forcing the the air to rise, causing the cloud and the respective lens shape.

They are very thin, and often described as "flying saucer, or UFO clouds due to the very stable airmass in which they form.

They are often associated with fast winds blowing perpendicular to the cloud formation indicating atmospheric turbulence. Pilots, as a result, often avoid these areas while in flight.