Enigmatic mammatus clouds lend an eerie beauty to post-storm landscape

In the aftermath of a deadly tornado that struck Westmoreland, Kansas, on Tuesday afternoon, a lesser-known spectacle unfolded in the skies above Wichita, about 150 miles south. As the sun dipped below the horizon, residents witnessed the mesmerizing dance of mammatus clouds-intriguing, bulbous formations that defy conventional cloud behavior.

Unlike their fluffy counterparts, which form as air rises and cools, mammatus clouds emerge when air sinks. As a thunderstorm clears, pockets of sinking air descend from the upper atmosphere. Cooler than the surrounding air, these currents carry moisture or ice crystals, creating the characteristic pouches.

Mammatus Clouds (Closeup) by Mindaugas G.

Mindaugas GasparaviÄ?ius shot these striking photos of Mammatus clouds appearing on the back side of a heavy, convective snow shower in late April near Vilnius, Lithuania.

The most impressive displays occur beneath the "anvil cloud," the flat top of a mature thunderstorm. Their pouchlike shapes are suspended beneath the remnants of a dissipating thunderstorm, lending an eerie beauty to the post-storm landscape.

For those who gazed upward, the sight was both eerie and awe-inspiring. The golden hues of sunset illuminated the rounded forms, contrasting against the darkening sky. Nature's delicate balance was on full display-a reminder that beauty and danger coexist, separated only by the fragile veil of our atmosphere.

Mammatus Oklahoma 5/16

Mammatus clouds cover the town of Ada, Oklahoma at sunset on May 15, 2022.

Mammatus clouds can be seen anywhere there are thunderstorms and have been featured on our weather photo blog from such locations as Indiana; Oklahoma; Berlin, Germany; and Vilnius, Lithuania.

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