What are mammatus clouds?
Wed, 08/26/2020 - 10:46am admin
Desmond Bad Wound
Originating from the Latin word mamma (meaning mammary or an udder, for us rural folks), these storm clouds most likely indicate that severe weather has just passed the area. Flight pilots are warned to steer away from these pouch-like formations due to the turbulence that lies ahead. The clouds are rare to see and often disappear after 15 minutes, so make sure to photograph them while you can and take in all our crazy weather our beautiful state has to offer!
With South Dakota and its unpredictable weather, it is important to get to know all the indicators of strong weather patterns and clouds. Mammatus clouds are in closest relation to the anvil-shaped clouds, the cumulonimbus, forming at the base, however; they can form under a number of different cloud types including cirrus, altocumulus, altostratus, cirrocumulus and, stratocumulus. Now that list may appear daunting to remember unless you remember your grade-school education that well, an easy way to remember what types of cloud to avoid is to look at the puffiness and gloomy color. The more dark and opaque they look, the more rain and severity they may bring.
With their distinctive and sometimes out-right frightening look, they are not the clouds you should be alarmed at. Think of them as the mailman for severe weather, they are just the messengers that severe weather is on its way or has just passed. Either way make sure to stay updated through your local weather source; such as your television, weather websites, etc.
Mammatus clouds were first described in 1894 by William Clement Lay, an English meteorologist, and his book, Cloudland: A study on the structure and characters of clouds (1894). Like many other authors in the earlier centuries, his ideas and work didn't receive recognition until after his death. He died in 1896 and his work was rediscovered nearly four decades later. Since then, there has been a multitude of theories and hypotheses on how they came to be put forth by meteorologists.
With that said, the only real trend that seems to unite them is of the sharp gradients in temperature and moisture.
A singular lobe in a Mammatus cloud may measure as far as two miles wide and be nearly a half-mile wide. They are cold pockets of ice and sometimes water, and sometimes both ice and water.
Of all the 10 hypotheses on the Mammatus cloud's formation, it is clear we still do not understand much about these beautiful, ominous-looking weather patterns.
It is of up-most importance you should check your local weather source if you happen to spot one. Remember to stay safe out there!
Popularly known in the weather community as mammatus clouds, the ‘mamma’ cloud feature can be found amongst six cloud types: cirrus, cirrocumulus, altocumulus, altostratus, cumulonimbus, and stratocumulus. Translated from latin, meaning breast, the six types of mamma clouds are respectively abbreviated as ‘Ci mam’, ‘Cc mam’, ‘Ac mam’, ‘As mam’, ‘Cb mam’, and ‘Sc mam’. Mamma cloud formations are condensed pockets of sinking air that look like cow udders lowering from the base of the cloud.
Even though it was once thought that tornadoes formed from them, mammatus clouds aren’t inherently dangerous.