When Clouds Raise an Eyebrow
The names of the different cloud types are mostly based on what they look like. We just say the shapes in Latin to make the classifications sound grown-up. The high, wavy streaks of Cirrus, for instance, are named from the Latin for a lock of hair. The low, solid-looking Cumulus are named from the Latin for a heap or stack. The disk-shaped clouds that hover downwind of mountain peaks get their lenticularis name from the Latin for a lentil. So what would we call this formation, spotted over Khumbu Himal in Nepal by Michael Kehl (Member 7,703), the Cloud of the Month for September?
Actually, the correct classification for this cloud is not too clear. We’ve often seen clouds like these forming in the fierce turbulent air flow when stiff winds blow over steep mountain peaks. In our opinion, this particular form of turbulence clouds don’t really have a satisfactory classification. We’ve always thought they look rather like eyebrows. In fact, we once enquired from Rick LaFleur, Franklin Professor of Classics Emeritus at the University of Georgia, US, what an appropriate Latin name might be for clouds that look like raised eyebrows. He suggested the term ‘superciliaris’, which is Latin for ‘(of or related to) an eyebrow’. Sounds good to us.
Of course there is nothing official about superciliaris clouds. Nothing official yet…
Altocumulus ‘superciliaris’ clouds spotted over Khumbu Himal in Nepal by Michael Kehl (Member 7,703).