All original images (C) Steve Douglass unless otherwise noted.

All original images (C) Steve Douglass unless otherwise noted. Permission required for commercial use or publishing.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Lenticular clouds - pretty but dangerous.

Lenticular clouds are stationary lens-shaped clouds that form at high altitudes, normally aligned perpendicular to the wind direction. Lenticular clouds can be separated into altocumulus standing lenticularis (ACSL), stratocumulus standing lenticular (SCSL), and cirrocumulus standing lenticular (CCSL).

Power pilots tend to avoid flying near lenticular clouds because of the turbulence of the rotor systems that accompany them, but sailplane pilots actively seek them out. The precise location of the rising air mass is fairly easy to predict from the orientation of the clouds. "Wave lift" of this kind is often very smooth and strong, and enables gliders to soar to remarkable altitudes and great distances. The current gliding world records for both distance (over 3,000 km; 1,864 mi) and altitude (15,460 m; 50,721 ft) were set using such lift.

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