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Patterns in mammatus clouds

On December 4, it remained dry in Mutare, Zimbabwe, despite a spectacular attempt to rain!

Mammatus clouds under approaching anvil, Mutare,  Zimbabwe, December 4. Photo by Peter Lowenstein.

Mammatus clouds under approaching anvil clouds, seen from Mutare, Zimbabwe on December 4. Photo by Peter Lowenstein.

After more than a week of unseasonably dry weather, there was a build up of cumulonimbus clouds over Mutare on the afternoon of December 4, 2016. They developed rapidly spreading anvil clouds with spectacular mammatus clouds on their undersides. Very strong winds blowing radially outwards deformed these to produce the amazing patterns shown in the photographs on this page. Despite some rumbles of thunder only virga – rain that falls from a cloud but does not touch the ground – was produced.

The pictures were taken using a Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ60 camera in auto exposure mode.

Quite an incredible display!

P.S. At the bottom, you’ll find a mosaic that shows the development of similar cumulonimbus to anvil and mammatus clouds, which took place about three hours earlier the same day. This is a classic textbook example of how they form.

Wind-deformed mammatus clouds under the approaching anvil cloud. December 4 photo by Peter Lowenstein.

Wind-deformed mammatus clouds under the approaching anvil cloud. December 4 photo by Peter Lowenstein.

Mammatus clouds, deformed by wind, on December 4. Photo by Peter Lowenstein.

Wind-deformed mammatus clouds under the departing anvil cloud. December 4 photo by Peter Lowenstein.

Swirling mammatus clouds under the departing anvil cloud.

Swirling mammatus clouds under the departing anvil cloud. December 4 photo by Peter Lowenstein.

Cumulonimbus to anvil and mammatus clouds, December 4, 2016.

Cumulonimbus to anvil and mammatus clouds from earlier in the same day, December 4, 2016. This is a classic textbook example of how they form. Photo by Peter Lowenstein.

Bottom line: Patterns in mammatus clouds, Mutare, Zimbabwe, December 4, 2016.

Peter Lowenstein

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