It’s possible to see anything in the clouds, but a giant vertical roped of a cloud visible over part of Wyoming left a few people scratching their heads.
That’s the reaction an oddly shaped cloud spotted in the skies aroundCasper got late last week when Marcie Taylor captured pictures of a perfectly vertical cloud on a clear day.
When she posted the photo to Wyoming Through the Lens, several explanations were offered from it being a trick of light to artificial weather modification for agriculture. Others said it was a thermal vortex and even a sign from “the Ancient Ones.”
This cloud stood out in a sky of otherwise normal, horizontal clouds.
But what was it?
Cowboy State Daily meteorologist Don Day has one possible explanation for the strange cloud formation — that’s it’s probably not a cloud at all.
“Best guess is a meteor contrail,” he said. “But those are usually on an angle and not so straight up and down.”
Meteor contrails are clouds formed from dust and water vapor created by the heat and pressure from a disintegrating meteoroid as it falls through Earth’s atmosphere.
There are two meteor showers streaking through the skies now, the Orionids peaked at the end of October, while the Leonids are scheduled to peak in mid-November.
On Oct. 30, a brilliant fireball was visible in the afternoon. People in Wyoming, Idaho and Montana submitted reports to the American Meteor Society saying they saw the fireball that day.
There were no reports from Casper of a fireball in the last week, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t one that could’ve left that cloud behind.
Or Going Up?
There is one other possible explanation, but it’s even rarer than spotting a fireball in Wyoming’s skies.
The verticality of the cloud is what’s so puzzling, almost as if a rocket blasting off from Earth punched through a cloud and that’s what’s left in the wake.
A rocket launch can create a vertical cloud like the one last week, but Day doesn’t think that would explain this cloud.
“It would have to be a large (rocket), and I don’t know who would be launching them,” he said.
There are also no reports of any rockets launched near Casper, so that explanation can be safely ruled out.
The only explanation that matters to Wyomingites is that the vertical Casper cloud was (and is) nothing to be concerned about. Regardless of its cause, like all clouds it was made of water vapor and didn’t stick around long.
But as for a specific explanation? Like all the clouds in the sky, this one seems to be over everyone’s head.
Andrew Rossi can be reached at email@example.com.