Three Distinct Cloud Decks Above the White Mountains of California
April 26, 2016
Shown above are three distinct cloud types stacked above the snow-capped White Mountains of California on the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada range. Though these cloud decks (cumulus at the bottom, lenticular clouds in the middle and cirrus at the top) appear to be stacked, they're not actually superimposed. While the cumulus build as a result of local convective heating and atmospheric instability, the lenticular clouds are caused by strong upslope winds (up the western flanks of the Sierras) that set up an atmospheric wave above the mountains. Note that the cirrus clouds sweep across the entire sky, not just over the Sierras. Photo taken on Highway 395, near Round Valley, California the afternoon of April 14, 2016.