NASA Photo Shows the Incredible Mammatus Clouds Over Nebraska

NASA Photo Shows the Incredible Mammatus Clouds Over Nebraska

Have you ever looked up at the sky and seen a series of puffy, pillow-like clouds that seem to hang from the bottom of a thunderstorm? If so, you’ve probably seen the infamous mammatus clouds. While they might look like giant marshmallows or even a playful alien invasion, these clouds are actually a fascinating and relatively common meteorological phenomenon.

The name “mammatus” comes from the Latin word for “breast,” and it’s easy to see why. These clouds are characterized by their soft, rounded shapes that resemble a mother’s milk-filled breasts. But don’t let their cuddly appearance fool you – these clouds can be associated with severe weather, including hail, thunderstorms, and tornadoes.

Mammatus clouds form as a result of sinking air in the lower atmosphere. Thunderstorms usually have an area of rising air near the top, which forms the anvil-shaped clouds that are often associated with thunderstorms. However, there are also areas of sinking air near the bottom of the storm, and these sinking pockets of air can cause mammatus clouds to form.

As the sinking air cools and condenses, it can create the distinctive puffy, rounded shapes that are characteristic of mammatus clouds. These clouds can range in size from a few feet to several miles across, and they can be found in clusters or individual clouds that can extend for hundreds of miles.

The exact conditions that lead to the formation of mammatus clouds are not fully understood, but they are thought to be related to the overall organization and structure of a thunderstorm.

Despite their ominous reputation, mammatus clouds have been known to bring a smile to even the grimmest of weather forecasters. Just imagine a storm chaser shouting into their radio, “I’ve got mammatus on the horizon!” It’s like something straight out of a cartoon.

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