Lenticular and Mountain Wave Clouds at Sunset
Santa Fe, New Mexico, December 3, 2013

by John Farley

These clouds form when strong winds carrying moist air are shaped into waves as they pass over the tops of mountains. When moisture condenses in this situation, you can get either an individual cloud that looks something like a flying saucer (a lenticular cloud) or very long clouds extending along or just downwind from the crest of the mountain range (mountain wave clouds) - or a combination of the two.

Lenticular and mountain wave clouds occur very commonly in mountainous areas such as New Mexico and Colorado, particularly in the winter. The clouds below were observed over the Sangre de Cristo, Sandia, and Jemez Mountains of northern New Mexico around sunset on December 3, 2013. The setting sun gave bright colors to the lenticular and mountain wave clouds.

You can learn more about lenticular and mountain wave clouds from this Wikipedia article.

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