Let’s Go Surfing In Sheridan: Photographer Captures Rare Cloud Phenomenon

Photographers in Sheridan on Tuesday captured a rare cloud phenomenon which looked like breaking waves over the Bighorn Mountains.

Don Day

December 07, 20222 min read

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(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

It’s not Photoshop and you’re not on ludes (likely).

It was just a rare cloud phenomenon that was captured outside of Sheridan, Wyoming, on Tuesday afternoon.

Cowboy State Daily reader Andrew Lindberg sent us photos of the rolling clouds and said they were known as Kelvin-Helmholtz clouds, billow clouds or shear gravity clouds.

Lindberg is correct. Meteorologist Don Day said to appreciate these Kelvin-Helmholtz clouds as “not too many people get to see them.”

The clouds were named after Lord Kelvin and Hermann von Helmholtz, who studied the physics of the instability that leads to this type of cloud formation.

These cloud formations occur when two layers of air are moving at differing speeds. When the top layer moves at a faster speed than the lower, it can pick up the top the clouds and produce these wave-like shapes.

The Center for Science Education puts it another way: “After wind blows up and over a barrier, like a mountain, the air continues flowing through the atmosphere in a wavelike pattern. Complex evaporation and condensation patterns create the capped tops and cloudless troughs of the waves.”

However they are explained, it’s great to see. And thanks to Andrew Lindberg for sending them our way.

Courtesy, Andrew Lindberg
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Don Day