WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- A photograph of clouds over Smith Mountain in Virginia is making the rounds on the internet this week because it looks like a painting.
- The mesmerizing image of the rare wave-like clouds was uploaded Tuesday by Amy Christie Hunter to the Smith Mountain Lake Picture Group, a page where people’s “adventures” and explorations in the region are being posted.
- According to Earthsky.org, the spectacular cloud formation is actually called a Kelvin-Helmholtz cloud, named after two scientists — Lord Kelvin and Hermann von Helmholtz — who studied the physics behind the atmospheric instability that led to the type of cloud pattern.
Amy Christie Hunter was looking up at the overcast sky over Smith Mountain in Virginia when she saw something that looked like a surreal painting. A mesmerizing cloud formation that looked like rolling waves tumbling across the sky. The clouds formed such perfect crests as if the sea had been transferred to the sky.
According to the website, the clouds are Kelvin-Helmholtz waves. They usually form on windy days when there is a velocity difference across the interface between two fluids, such as wind blowing over water, EarthSky.org explains.
” You’ll often see the characteristic wave structure in this type of cloud when two different layers of air in our atmosphere are moving at different speeds,” the website states. “The upper layers of air are moving at higher speeds and will often scoop the top of the cloud layer into these wave-like rolling structures.”
The breath-taking cloud formation is called a Kelvin-Helmholtz cloud, named after two scientists — Lord Kelvin and Hermann von Helmholtz — who studied the physics behind the atmospheric instability that led to the type of cloud pattern.
These wave-like clouds have been gracing the skies for centuries that EarthSky suggests that they have inspired Van Gogh’s “Starry Night.”