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The Sciences

The fist of an angry cloud

Bad AstronomyBy Phil PlaitJuly 16, 2011 4:00 PM

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I glanced out my office window the other day and saw what is clearly a sign that the weather is ticked off about something:

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Go cloud! Punch that sky! I was thinking at first the cloud was the result of a big convective updraft; warm air screaming upwards and forming a puffy column. A couple of weeks ago I saw this happen in a ginormous cumulonimbus storm cloud. There were several rapidly rising columns of air moving up so quickly they were forming pilei, which are caps of water vapor that look like little shock waves at the top of the cloud. However, when I was looking at this fist cloud just a few minutes later as it blew east toward my house, I saw this was just a perspective effect, and it was just a normal puffy cloud. Too bad. I was getting into it. Give it to the man! Fight the stratus quo!


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