Mother-of-pearl clouds over Colorado?

Caleb Jones took this photo in Estes Park, Colorado (USA) on 28 October, around 3:10pm local time. The weather had been mostly clear on this day. These clouds were relatively far from the sun, and the vivid iridescent colors seem to be caused by very small droplets that polar stratospheric clouds have. But the edges of the wave cloud look more like regular mid-level waveclouds.

The 00 UTC 29 October sounding of Denver doesn”t show unusually strong winds at high altitude, at 40 to 50 kts from the NW. In fact the entire troposphere seems rather dry on that particular sounding for lenticular clouds to occur.

I do not think this was caused by a missile launch either, considering the lenticular shape of the clouds.

I am wondering if these could be stratospheric clouds, or just some quite unusual appearance of lenticular mountain wave clouds. I received another report from someone else in Colorado who also took images, and am waiting for her approval to post them here as well.

Author: Harald Edens


Posted on May 14, 2011, in coronae and iridescence, observations, polar stratospheric clouds, twilight phenomena and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Marko Riikonen said…

    I have seen once similar stuff in Philippines. They occurred at sunrise.

  2. Reima Eresmaa said…

    On the basis of the radiosounding data, I would not exclude the possibility of MoP in this case. The sounding of Riverton, some few hundred kilometers to north from Colorado, on 12Z 28 October 2006, shows temperatures below -76C in the tropopause region, accompanied with dew point curve relatively close to the temperature curve. Experience gathered in Finland during the recent winters shows that MoP observations are most often connected with stratospheric temperatures close to -80C.

    The fact that the cloud edges look similar to regular mid-level waveclouds might perhaps be explained by relatively low altitude of the region of the coldest temperature, i.e. the altitude of the clouds. In the Finnish MoP cases, the minimum temperatures typically occur at pressure levels of 50 to 30 hPa. In this case the minimum is at 135 hPa.

  3. Claudia Hinz said…

    There are some cases of MoP which developed to lower temperatures on the crystals of HNO3, H2SO4 and another catalyst of chemical components which we send in the higher atmosphere. Some of this solidify already to 72°C. For this I suspect MOPs also to lower temperatures as 80°C. I know several cases from Germany, Netherlands and Island who observed the MOPs to similarly terms like this in Colorado.

  4. GV said…

    This photo is amazing I saw something similar close at home at the beginning I felt scared but after everything was stabilized I enjoyed so much the beautiful view.

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