|Credit: Peter Murray|
These unusual clouds are often mistaken for UFOs (or visual cover for flying saucers) because of their weird shape. They are not a sign of alien life , but rather a special type of cloud, called lenticular clouds because of their unusual lens-like shape. They tend to form at high altitudes, normally aligned at a right-angle to the wind direction. These photos were taken by Peter Murray over Mt. Rainer from Vashon Island which is off the coast of Washington State.
The cloud is formed when warm, moist air runs into the surface of a mountain or mountain range. The mountain's topography forces the air upward, which cools and condenses the air -- turning it into a cloud.
As the air sinks back on the other side of the mountain, it dries out and the cloud begins to dissipate. The clouds do have plenty of moisture but their appearance doesn't always mean it will rain.
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