Standing Lenticular Clouds Near Long's Peak, Colorado

February 08, 2019

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Photographer: Richard H. Hahn
Summary Author: Richard H. Hahn 

Shown above are breathtaking lenticular clouds (Altocumulus Lenticularis) that I observed east of Long's Peak, Colorado, on the afternoon of January 4, 2019. I was standing in the parking lot of the Beaver Meadows Park Headquarters of Rocky Mountain National Park when I captured this photo.

As air travels along the surface of the Earth, obstructions or barriers are often encountered that disrupt the flow of air into eddies, or areas of turbulence influenced by these obstructions. When moist, stable air flows over a larger eddie, often created by a range of mountains, a series of large-scale standing waves will form on the leeward side. If the air temperature at the crest of the wave drops to the local dew point, water vapor may condense to form lens-shaped clouds. On occasion when atmospheric conditions are just right, as was the case this afternoon, similar looking lenticular clouds will take shape near the crest of each successive wave.

Photo Details: Canon EOS 5D Mark IV camera; Canon EF 16-35mm lens; f/2.8 L III USM; ISO 400; lens focal length 31mm; 1/320, 1/160 and 1/80 second exposures; f/4.0. Taken at 5:01 p.m.