45ºF

Labor Day lenticular cloud appears over Sharp Top

Lenticular clouds often form near mountains

Photo: Peter Forister - Sharp Top

ROANOKE, Va. – The mountains in our area are an obvious influence on the weather, but can also be an influence in some rare types of clouds that form. 

In Monday's case, Virginia Tech meteorology grad student, Peter Forister, got to see first-hand how Sharp Top produced a 'lenticular cloud.' 

In a tweet, Forister says that he's been, "...dreaming of getting this shot for a while."

I, and probably many other meteorologists, have been dreaming of getting that shot too. 

Lenticular clouds take on the shape of a lens or even a UFO, and usually form around a mountain (like Sharp Top). The air Monday morning was pretty stable, meaning that the air wasn't going to rise on its own. 

That's where Sharp Top comes in. The mountain helped to lift the air to a point of saturation, producing a cloud. Once that saturated air reached the stable air, it was forced back down. This up and down in proximity to the mountain is what produced this dome-shaped cloud. 

Below are more photos that Forister sent to us of this same cloud. From this vantage point, you can see the cloud 'stacking,' above Sharp Top's peak.

Photo Credit: Peter Forister

Photo Credit: Peter Forister


About the Author: