Beauty After the Storms: Social Media Lights Up With Shots of Mammatus Clouds Glowing In the Setting Sun

Pam Wright
Published: May 19, 2017

While this week brought a rash of deadly storms and tornadoes in the Plains and Midwest, Mother Nature also offered up a display of beauty in the wake of these devastating storms.

Social media was chock full of scenes of devastation, along with dramatic shots of tornadoes touching down from Texas to Iowa. However, there were also breathtaking shots of mammatus clouds that often accompany thunderstorms. The timing of the shots assured a beautiful sunset in many areas. 

Mammatus clouds captured at sunset in Anadarko, Oklahoma.
(Lamontt Bear/Facebook)

Words like "unusual," "distinct" and "beautiful" commonly describe mammatus clouds, which are the round structures that appear to be bulging from the underside of a larger cloud.

They're a fascinating type of cloud, as they form in air that sinks instead of rises. The sinking air must be colder than the surrounding air and have high liquid water or ice content.

Mammatus clouds are defined as hanging protrusions, like pouches, on the undersurface of a cloud. They often occur on the edges and sloping underside of cumulonimbus and have been observed on both the upshear and downshear sided of a thunderstorm's outflow anvil and typically last around 10 minutes. However, they can also occur with altostratus, altocumulus, stratocumulus clouds and cirrus clouds.

Mammatus clouds are frequently associated with severe weather, but they don't produce severe weather themselves.

Here are a few that caught our eye:

MORE: Tornadoes Flatten Homes and Structures in Wisconsin, Oklahoma

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