Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Baby lenticulars

After a fine Vacation Resort Hale Pohaku dinner I headed back to the dormitory to pick up my stuff for tonight's shift at the telescope. The forecast for the mountain wasn't great but certainly better than the previous two nights, but the clouds over neighbouring Mauna Loa caught my eye. Was this a lenticular cloud being formed? I took a quick picture outside the dorm to compare with the view from the summit later, because I wasn't sure if my eyes were playing tricks and it was simply regular cirrus. The summit forecast was for 15-25 mph winds and you need high winds to form lenticular clouds, so I was sceptical.

At the summit, however, I was a little more convinced. The temperature was -3 degrees Celsius with winds of 40 mph (that's a windchill of about -13 degrees C or 8 degrees Fahrenheit). At least the forecast had the wind direction correct! A small lenticular cloud had formed just east of Mauna Loa's summit along with a baby one further to the east.

Just to the east of our position on Mauna Kea was another baby lenticular caused by the winds that were trying to blow me off the summit (it was gusting to 50 mph now). The nearly-full moon just happened to be close by as well.

I'm writing this from a warm control room although ice is forming outside rapidly and we may not be able to stay long if road conditions become dangerous. As you might expect we're closed due to freezing fog and high winds. Outside is no place to be right now! Even at sunset it was very uncomfortable and I'm sure many of the tourists weren't expecting conditions like this, so as soon as the sun had set, the procession started back down to warmer conditions.

1 comment:

Protege said...

Very interesting clouds, did not know they were called "lenticular".
I particularly love the evidence of sun and light in these photos; right now I am lacking these very much.