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WOW! Impressive Kelvin-Helmholtz waves dazzle near Smith Mountain Lake

These clouds appeared over SML Tuesday evening.

ROANOKE, Va. – Like many of us nowadays, I was scrolling through Facebook Tuesday night. In the middle of my scrolling, the above picture immediately caught my eye. Amy Hunter seized the moment to capture these incredible clouds and post them to the Smith Mountain Lake Picture Group on Facebook. 

So what are these clouds? 

While they're nothing new, they might be to you. 

Kelvin-Helmholtz waves develop due to differing wind speeds in the atmosphere. Because the air is saturated at this level of the atmosphere, a cloud can form. At the top of the wave, the air is moving faster than the air at the bottom of the wave. The differing wind speed and density of the air from top to bottom is what allows the cloud to billow over like an ocean wave. 

They typically form either around sunrise or sunset, as the bottom layer of the cloud is cooler (more dense) than the top layer.

While they are certainly a sight to behold from the ground level, they can prove very tricky for anyone who has to fly through them.

Any day at Smith Mountain Lake is a good day, only to be made better sometimes by the sights our atmosphere gives us.

A huge thanks to Amy Hunter for allowing us to use this picture. She tells 10 News that absolutely no edits were made on the picture, which only adds to how amazing this truly is.


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