Did you see these ‘wave’ clouds Friday? Here’s what they are

Weather Blog
Undulatus Asperatus clouds on Nov. 12, 2021 (Courtesy Doug St.Ament)

Undulatus Asperatus clouds on Nov. 12, 2021 (Courtesy Doug St.Ament)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Here at KXAN, we often get photos of things people see in the sky that they find interesting. A strange light, a cloud shaped like an animal, you name it and we’ve seen it.

Unique cloud formation
(KXAN photo courtesy Greg Ward)

But when we get more than a dozen photos of the same clouds to our KXAN ReportIt tipline, we go ‘okay, this deserves its own story.’

In the National Weather Service’s Austin-area forecast discussion, they refer to the clouds as “wave clouds.” We called to follow up and ask what that means, and Jason Runyen, the senior forecaster for the Austin-San Antonio National Weather Service, kindly took at look at some of your ReportIt photos, and he says they’re what’s called Undulatus Asperatus clouds.

“Asperitas clouds are observed when atmospheric waves propagate near the base of clouds. This feature is often seen as well-defined, wave-like structures in the underside of the cloud as if viewing a roughened sea surface from below,” Runyen wrote to KXAN.

I also took those photos right down the hall to the KXAN First Warning Weather team and got the same analysis. Basically, when waves form in the atmosphere at the bottom of a cloud, they can make the cloud look like a wave.

KXAN Meteorologist Nick Bannin added a fun fact: Undulatus Asperitas clouds weren’t named until 2009, making them one of the newest named cloud formations.

Here are some of the photos taken by and sent to KXAN of the clouds Friday:

  • Unique clouds
  • Unique clouds
  • Unique cloud formation
  • Unique clouds
  • Unique clouds
  • Unique clouds
  • Unique cloud formation
  • Unique clouds
  • Unique clouds

The clouds come as we start to fall into a pattern of fall weather. With a couple pushes of cooler and drier air, Central Texas will fall into a pattern of chilly mornings and mild afternoons over the next several days.

Here’s our latest KXAN First Warning Weather forecast.

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