Crystals in the sky

Early this afternoon the clouds at the marine lab were very interesting, so I took some photos:

© 2015 Allison J. Gong
© 2015 Allison J. Gong

These thin wisps are a subset of cirrus cloud called cirrus uncini clouds, commonly referred to as mares' tails and characterized by the hooked formation ('uncinus' is Latin for 'hook'). They occur high in the atmosphere, at altitudes around 5500 meters (18000 feet) and above, and consist of ice crystals rather than liquid water or water vapor.

© 2015 Allison J. Gong
© 2015 Allison J. Gong

Alas, cirrus clouds do not produce precipitation at ground level. Nor does their presence necessarily indicate a change in prevailing weather conditions. However, a large gathering of cirrus clouds may be a sign of an approaching storm front. The cloud formations I saw today dissipated within a few hours to a vague high-altitude haze. Meanwhile, my old friend the low-altitude marine layer appears to be re-forming over Monterey Bay, which means we'll probably have an overcast night and a drizzly morning tomorrow--typical summer weather for the central California coast. It shouldn't be very windy, and if the pattern holds for the next several days I might not freeze or get swept away when I go out on the low tides towards the end of the week.

© 2015 Allison J. Gong
© 2015 Allison J. Gong

Sometimes clouds are just so pretty!

One thought on “Crystals in the sky

  1. Pingback: The short drive home | Notes from a California naturalist

Leave a Reply