Mammatus Clouds

Mammatus Clouds


Mammatus is a cellular pattern of pouches hanging underneath the base of a cloud, typically a cumulonimbus raincloud, although they may be attached to other classes of parent clouds.


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Mammatus clouds are pouch-like protrusions hanging from the undersides of clouds, usually thunderstorm anvil clouds but other types of clouds as well. Composed primarily of ice, these cloud pouches can extend hundreds of miles in any direction, remaining visible in your sky for perhaps 10 or 15 minutes at a time.

People associate them with severe weather, and they can indeed appear around, before, or after a storm. Contrary to myth, they don’t continue extending downward to form tornados, but they are interesting in part because they’re formed by sinking air. Most clouds are formed by rising air. Mammatus clouds can appear ominous. But, in a way that’s so common in nature, their dangerous aspect goes hand in hand with magnificent beauty.


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