A U.S. Navy flight engineer based at NAS Whidbey Island captured this photograph of a swirling cloud on a flight down the Strait of Juan de Fuca last fall.
The engineer, who asked that he remain anonymous for security reasons, said they had taken off in their P-3C aircraft from Whidbey Island on the morning of Sept. 23 and were heading west over the strait.
He spotted the swirling cloud from about 10,000 feet up as they passed the inlet near Port Renfrew on Vancouver Island, which is near the western end of the strait.He says the cloud was about 1,500 to 2,000 feet above the ground, and it was mostly sunny elsewhere.
So, what is it? While this might look like something ominous out of the movie "Day After Tomorrow," in fact, it's just a harmless eddy, which forms out there in that part of the water on occasion.
At the time the photo was taken, there was a light east wind drifting down the Strait of Juan de Fuca at about 5 to 10 mph. Meanwhile, just outside the strait's entrance was a light southwest wind. That interaction right at the end of the strait caused a swirl of winds, and with some fog hanging around from earlier in the day, the swirl was visible to the naked eye.
It's just another way in which Nature can awe.