These unusual cloud formations above downtown New York were as fitting an end as any to a truly bizarre week. Our minds wander to corn-on-the-cob, like you'd find at a summer barbecue. Another (and meteorologist) after the jump.
If any of the meteorologically-inclined among you have a more precise explanation for the odd clouds, we'd love to hear from you, if only because we'd love to make sense of something that happened this week.
UPDATE: Meteorologist Jim Nichols of NBC in Baltimore wrote in with an explanation. Thanks Jim!
Those are, in fact, Mammatus clouds and are harmless. However, they are usually (but not always) associated with strong thunderstorms. In this case, these clouds would be associated with the strong storms that rolled through NY earlier. Some research suggests that these clouds are more prominent after the storm has passed. They are not a reliable indicator of a potential tornado. They are formed because moist air is interacting with dry air, the temperature differences causes evaporation at different levels and thus...these pouches form.
Think of it this way...you have your car parked next to the empire state building and some yahoo decides to throw a bucket of change off the top of the building. The bucket has all kinds of coins...quarters, dimes, nickels, etc. When the change lands on your car you'll expect lots of dings...some smaller dings (pennies that landed) some larger dings (quarters that landed). In this scenario, your car would be the cloud, the coins are raindrops or ice crystals and the size of the coin represents the amount of energy required for evaporation. So, for the clouds...the more evaporation that is required, the larger the pouch. Just likein our car scenario, the larger the coin, the larger the ding in your car.