Weather Talk: Turbulent wave clouds serve as reminder of summer
Although it will be several weeks before area lakes are free of ice, a reminder of a summer day at the lake can occasionally be seen in the sky.
The pleasant rhythm of waves lapping at the lake shore is caused by wind blowing over the water at a faster speed than the water is moving. This same thing happens in the air all the time, but the waves are usually invisible.
On occasion, however, a cloud forms at the interface between two layers of air moving at different velocities. This causes the cloud to take on the shape of rolling waves.
Called Kelvin Helmholtz clouds, or just wave clouds, these clouds are a sign of turbulence in the air. The cloud's name comes from Lord Kelvin and Hermann von Helmholtz, the 19th century scientists who studied and described the physics behind these clouds.