Is That A Flying Saucer On Top Of Mt. Rainier?

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By By Steve Pool

SEATTLE - Some have thought they sure looked like alien ships, but the "flying saucer" clouds sometimes seen over Mt. Rainier have a much less spooky explanation.

They're really called "lenticular" clouds, and they're caused is formed when warm, moist air runs into the surface of Mt. Rainier. The mountain's topography forces the air upward, which cools and condenses the air -- turning it into a cloud.

As the air sinks back on the other side of the mountain, it dries out and the cloud dissipates. That's why it just hangs over the summit area.

(Although it looks like it is "hanging" over the mountain, air is continually flowing over the summit.)

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