Mamma clouds over Dodge City, Kansas, US

Mamma clouds, also known as mammatus, are pouch-like formations that can appear on the underside of cloud layers. Named after the Latin for an ‘udder’, they’re found on several of the ten main cloud types, but the most dramatic examples of mamma appear around large storm systems. Like the fantastic examples captured here by Chad Cowen over Dodge City, Kansas in 2016, they appear hanging from the underside of the canopies of high cloud extending outwards at the top of Cumulonimbus storm clouds. The dramatic appearance of mamma, is in fact slightly deceptive. They doesn’t generally indicate wild weather is on its way. Mamma tend to appear to the rear, not the front, of the storm system. So when you spot dramatic mamma formations like this, the chances are that the storm generating them has already missed you.

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