‘This one stood out’: Lenticular cloud hovers like a saucer over South American Andes

Mountain ranges and the turbulent airflow around them help create some magical and otherworldly scenes.

On Thursday, during a beautiful and otherwise sunny ride, hikers in the Argentine Andes caught a prime example of a stacked lenticular cloud. It seems to spin in place like a saucer-shaped top hat and it’s easy to imagine why these phenomena have led to UFO reports in the past.

Minh Phan, a government meteorologist, tweeted, “I literally lost my… mind” at first glance. He was fortunately able to capture a mesmerizing time-lapse of the lenticular’s silent pirouette over a mountaintop near the border between Argentina and Chile.

As mid-latitude air rushes over a mountain range — in this case, the Andes — eddies form, like horizontal rotors extending past the peaks, and can eventually become large-scale standing waves.

“Lenticular clouds are quite common in this part of the world, especially with the mountain climate,” Phan wrote in a text message to The mail. “There were many other pockets of lenticular clouds on that walk alone, but this one stood out because they were so stacked.”

Lenticular clouds over the Andes.Credit:@WXMinh

These standing waves are often present in mountainous environments. They are a primary cause of turbulence in clear skies and airline pilots will often try to avoid them.

Lenticular clouds become visible as more and more moisture enters the air.

Rather than being truly stationary, the lenticular cloud is constantly developing near the crest of the standing wave. The stacked appearance of some lenticular clouds is believed to arise due to small variations in moisture concentration at different altitudes.

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Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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