Lenticular Clouds and Mt. Etna

July 20, 2023


Photographer: Kevin Saragozza    
Summary Author: Kevin Saragozza   

On my way to work one morning this past spring, I couldn’t help but notice this fantastic sight showing snowcapped Mt. Etna and to its right (leeward side) stacked, lenticular clouds. These lens shaped clouds form when air is forced to flow over mountain ranges or areas of substantial relief, resulting in an orographic wave.

Lenticular clouds represent the 'visible' part of the wave that otherwise couldn’t be detected. Classified as “Altocumulus lenticularis,” favorable conditions for the genesis of these type of waves include stable air and a sustained wind that increases with altitude. In fact, a characteristic feature of these waves is that the amplitude of the oscillations increases with altitude. In addition, the phase of the wave, which causes the motion of the air to be ascending or descending, is subject to periodic variations with altitude and thus plays a role in determining these clouds' peculiar shapes. Photo taken on April 25, 2023.

Syracuse, Santa Panagia, Sicily, Italy Coordinates: 37.0755, 15.2866

Related Links:

Mount Etna Eruption, Lenticular Clouds and Waxing Moon

Kevin’s Website