People across the north-east shared images of a spectacular sunset on Wednesday night – but those on the Moray coast were granted an extra meteorological treat, in the form of rare lenticular clouds.
These large, curvy, smooth cloud formations look a little like UFOs, and are impressive enough during the day.
But lit up by the crepuscular violets, oranges and reds, they can turn into something very special indeed.
People on the Moray Coast from Nairn to Cullen took pictures of the extraordinary sight to post on their social media.
There were some really weird lenticular clouds around the Moray Firth today – here’s a few pics pic.twitter.com/WDiJzf3wla
— Bob Reid (@bobgreid) January 12, 2022
The Met Office describes lenticular clouds like these as “quite unusual in the British Isles”, adding that they are “believed to be one of the most common explanations for UFO sightings across the world”.
They tend to be found in spots downwind of mountain ranges or hills, with the Cairngorms perhaps the reason for Wednesday’s display.
When air currents hit the tops of the mountains, it can cause “waves” further downstream, a bit like ripples being formed in a stream when water meets a rock poking from the surface.
Under the right circumstances, these rising waves can cause water vapour to condense into clouds with the unique appearance of a concave bottom – which is why they are called ‘lenticular’, meaning ‘lens-shaped’.
Twitter forecaster HighlandWeather has said Speyside, Moray, Easter Ross, Inverness and north-east Aberdeenshire could be in for more of the formations tonight.
The account said: “Sunrise and sunset will be spectacular in places along with lenticular clouds through the day.”
- Did you get any great snaps of the lenticular clouds? E-mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org for us to share in an online gallery