WATCH: Rare clouds make waves on social media

Published: Thursday, June 20, 2019 @ 7:51 AM

A rare formation of clouds wowed onlookers at Virginia's Smith Mountain Lake on Tuesday.

A rare set of clouds captured by a resident of Roanoke, Virginia, is making its way around the internet. 

The Kelvin-Helmholtz clouds, which looks like ocean waves, appeared on a stormy Tuesday afternoon, and Amy Christie Hunter snapped a picture of it, according to WDBJ TV, a CBS affiliate in Roanoke.  

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The Kelvin-Helmholtz clouds typically forms when there are unstable conditions in the atmosphere. The name comes from the scientist who discovered the science of a single fluid having different density and moving at different speed on the surface and below the surface.

On a windy day, these clouds could form where the air on top of the cloud is colder and moving faster than the air underneath the cloud, causing instability and turbulence, said Storm Center 7 Meteorologist Dontae Jones. 

Aircraft operators can often look to these clouds as signs of turbulence. 

Kelvin-Helmholtz clouds typically don’t last when they are formed.