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Melbourne weather: 'Alien-like' clouds spotted in the sky

Amazing ‘alien-like’ clouds are spotted in the sky over Melbourne Airport – so what exactly are they?

  • Residents were stunned after discovering bizarre cloud formation in Melbourne
  • Photos uploaded to Facebook with social media users guessing the type of clouds
  • Some reacted ironically saying it looked like popcorn clouds
  • The formation is known as a Mattamus cloud

Residents are stunned after discovering a bizarre cloud formation taking shape in the sky.

The strange clouds formed over Melbourne Airport on Thursday evening.

The clouds seemed to hang and clump together to form small pockets.

Residents are stunned after discovering a bizarre cloud formation taking shape in the sky

Photos of the clouds were uploaded to Facebook, where social media users were impressed by the striking formations.

“Absolutely amazing,” one person wrote.

Another said: ‘My favorite kind of clouds to see…nice pictures’.

Some made ironic attempts to identify the formation.

“A technical term would be popcorn clouds!!!” one wrote.

“Just like the movie… ‘Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs’ lol,” said another social media user.

The formation is known as a mattamus cloud – a term that comes from the Latin word “mamma” and translates to “udder” or “breast.”

The strange clouds formed over Melbourne Airport on Thursday evening

The strange clouds formed over Melbourne Airport on Thursday evening

The Bureau of Meteorology explains that the clouds form in descending air and often precede a downpour, thunderstorm or hailstorm.

‘When air comes down, the water in the air evaporates,’ explains BoM on its website.

‘Under certain atmospheric conditions, this evaporation leads to greater downward movement of air, pulling the cloud downward.

“The result of this is the sagging projections at the bottom of a cloud known as mammatus.”

WHAT IS A MAMMATUS CLOUD

Mammatus can appear as smooth, ragged or lumpy lobes and can be opaque or translucent. Because mammatus occurs as a group of lobes, the way they clump together can range from an isolated cluster to a field of mammae spreading over hundreds of miles to be organized along a line, and can be composed of unequal or similar lobes. The individual mammatus lobe has an average diameter of 1-3 kilometers and an average length of 1.2 kilometers.

A lobe can last an average of 10 minutes, but a whole cluster of mammies can take anywhere from 15 minutes to a few hours. They are usually composed of ice, but can also be a mixture of ice and liquid water or consist of almost entirely liquid water.

True to their ominous appearance, mammatus clouds are often harbingers of a coming storm or other extreme weather system. They are usually mostly composed of ice and can stretch for hundreds of miles in any direction, and individual formations can remain visibly static for ten to fifteen minutes at a time. While they may seem ominous, they are just the messengers — appearing around, before, or even after severe weather.

– Source: Wikipedia

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