(COLORADO SPRINGS) — They’re one of the most unique and distinctive clouds, and we had a chance to see them around Southern Colorado.
Mammatus clouds are easily recognized by the pouches or bubbles emerging from the base of a cloud. A few pictures were snapped by FOX21 viewers on Thursday.
We often see mammatus clouds associated with thunderstorms, but they can come alongside other cloud types as long as sinking air is present; that is the key ingredient we need for these interesting cloud formations.
The distinct bubble-like look of these formations make them one of the most exciting cloud types to see.
So how do these clouds actually form?
Mammatus clouds are most commonly seen after a thunderstorm has passed. They typically form under the overhanging “anvil” of a thunderstorm on the leading edge.
Mammatus clouds in association with a thunderstorm can be seen in the anvil portion of the thunderhead. In other words, the part of the storm that flattens out and spreads out at the top of a storm.
In this part of the storm, the air higher up is cold and saturated. As the heavy air starts to sink, this air pushes past the cloud base and forms the bubbly base we call mammatus clouds.
These clouds get their name from the Latin word mamma which translates to “udder” because they look like a cow’s udder.
A big misconception about them is that it means a tornado is coming. Although these cloud formations are often seen with storms, they do not always come with severe weather. In fact, sometimes mammatus clouds can form in other cloud types that produce no severe weather, rain, or snow.