Those odd clouds, and a handful of rainbow pics

Tuesday's late afternoon thunderstorm created some fantastic rainbows around the area. And while you were gawking at the prismatic display, you might have also noticed some odd-looking clouds -- a sort of formation we don't see very often around here.

It caused local weather nerds to have a moment. See this thread over on the National Weather Service Albany Facebook page in which people shared all sorts of photos.

Here's a quick overview of what exactly those were, and a bunch of bonus rainbow pics...

Those were mammatus clouds. And, yep, the root of that name is Latin and, yep, it refers to what it sounds like.

Mammatus are typically associated with towering cumulonimbus clouds. From an Accuweather explainer:

While associated with thunderstorms, mammatus clouds are not necessarily an indicator of severe weather. Mammatus result from the sinking of moist air into dry air. They are in essence upside-down clouds. The sharp boundary of mammatus is much like the sharp boundary of a rising cumulonimbus cloud before an anvil has formed.

Also: They tend to indicate a very bumpy ride for airplanes.

The exact cause of mammatus clouds is unclear. In a 2006 paper in the Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences, researchers described them "an intriguing enigma of atmospheric fluid dynamics and cloud physics." (True of so many things.) Here's a walkthrough of some of the possible mechanisms by a former president of the American Meteorological Society.


A bunch of rainbow photos people posted yesterday:

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A beautiful end to the work day. Lookin good, Albany #rainbows #fallbany @discoveralbany @nyscapitolvisit #518love

A post shared by Susan Rice (@suericeface) on

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Post-rain views ???????? #Albany

A post shared by @ photozofalbany on

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???? ???? #TroyNy #EnjoyTroy (????:@thatmattwade)

A post shared by ???? Troy, NY ???? (@enjoytroy) on


Mammatus clouds! AOA, how you do keep educating us.

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