Twisting dancing cloud video real and very cool

Phil Plait at Bad Astronomy helps get an explanation to this amazing video from a while back.

Amazing video of a bizarre twisting dancing cloud

The video is of a cumulonimbus cloud, a puffy white cauliflower-shaped cloud that forms when warm air rises rapidly. The camera view is between two buildings, and you can see the puffy cloud top just below the center of the frame. Keep your eye on the little wisp of cloud just above the cumulonimbus, right in the middle of the frame.


Assuming the video is real, I had a sneaky suspicion it had to do with the electric currents generated inside the cloud, the same currents that create lightning. Clouds can carry huge electric potentials — essentially, the ability to move charges around — and that stored energy can be suddenly released, creating lightning. When that happens, the electric field resets itselfs, and starts to store up energy again.

But I had no clue how that would make the cloud appear to dance like that!

Source: Bad Astronomy blog

Ask a real scientists how the world works. And gets an answer. Love it.

  2 comments for “Twisting dancing cloud video real and very cool

  1. October 25, 2011 at 3:15 PM

    Previously addressed on the excellent blog Forgetomori: http://forgetomori.com/2011/science/a-new-natural-phenomenon-crown-flash/

    Prior to that, additional videos and earlier suggestions as to causation by Seattle’s Bill Beaty: http://amasci.com/amateur/sundog.html

    Bill runs the excellent Weird Science Salon in Seattle: http://www.flickr.com/photos/matthetube/6108363700/

    • idoubtit
      October 25, 2011 at 3:17 PM

      Thanks for those. I remember reading the forgetomori stuff. Fantastic.

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