Strange and unusual cloud formations

By Patrick Hsiao 24 May 2012
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Clouds help us predict weather, but these phenomena can take on weird and wonderful forms.

ALWAYS SHIFTING AND CHANGING, clouds are capable of an incredible variety of formations. They are formed simply by the condensation of warm water vapour, but this processcan be complex and the variables many. 

Depending on the conditions, they can form all sorts of weird and wonderful embodiments, from the flying saucer-shaped lenticular cloud to the hanging tube of roll clouds.
“Clouds are important for a whole lot of reasons,” says Dr John Bennett, a meteorologist at Flinders University in Adelaide. “From a professional or an observer’s perspective, they can tell us what is happening in the atmosphere.”

Though we might not pay attention to them all the time, clouds play an important role in our daily lives, at least in predicting the weather.

“The formation and development of clouds is the forerunner to rain and rain is critical to life on Earth, so clouds are very important. They also help people decide what they are going to do on a day-to-day basis,” says climatologist Associate Professor Howard Bridgman from the University of Newcastle.

See the gallery of 8 unusual cloud formations