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Horseshoe Vortex Cloud (February 07)

Horseshoe Vortex Cloud (February 07)

Feb 07 Cloud of the Month
(Click image to enlarge) (Image © Eric Rehwald)

Feb 07 Wiro Header

Feb 07 Heading

At the Cloud Appreciation Society, we don’t like to claim one cloud is better than another. But some clouds are undeniably rarer, making them seem a little more special. One of the rarest of all is the ‘horseshoe vortex cloud’. In fact, of the 2,200 or so images on our cloud photo gallery to date, only two feature this elusive formation. The fine example above appeared over Jasper, Alberta, Canada (the other one is here).

This cloud forms in a region of rotating air, or vortex. Such vortices usually form vertically, sometimes leading to waterspouts or even tornados, but occasionally they can develop with a horizontal axis and give rise to a gently rotating crescent of cloud. Such a movement of air seems to happen when an updraught is sent into a spin upon reaching shearing horizontal winds. Rarely are conditions right for a cloud to appear within the spin.

Some say that a horseshoe brings luck only when it is pointing upwards and holding the luck in. Others claim that, when pointing down, it allows luck to fall onto those below. Horseshoe vortex clouds tend to point downwards and so any cloudspotters already fortunate enough to see one will want to stand below it to top up on their luck.

  • Jan Septon

    Jan Septon

    March 12, 2013 at 11:16 pm

    Could it be possible that horseshoe vortex clouds are rarely seen, not because they are rare, but because they only last about 10 seconds? I see them frequently when skiing at Alta, Utah in the winter and in the summer in northern Arizona.

  • andorra ski resorts

    August 28, 2013 at 1:43 pm

    Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally, it seems as
    though you relied on the video to make your point.
    You clearly know what youre talking about, why throw away
    your intelligence on just posting videos to your
    weblog when you could be giving us something informative to read?

  • Linda

    March 9, 2014 at 8:40 pm

    Whatever…great cloud pic…and if they are frequent but fast…and we are not…how amazing is that?!

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