Weather Blog

Mother Nature doodling? Nah, just a few ships

Mother Nature doodling? Nah, just a few ships

Astute viewers of visible satellite images last weekend might have noticed something strange off the Pacific Coast -- little squiggly lines that looked like Mother Nature was just doodling on the ocean.

But instead, those are simply ship trails.

(Here is a larger image of the picture above: )

Dr. Dale Ireland of Silverdale, when he's not tracking shuttle landings or giving us those great time lapse videos off his porch looking over the Hood Canal, is also a bit of a satellite image buff.   He says when conditions are right, you can see the condensation from the ship's exhaust appear on visible satellite images. 

You can tell they are from ship exhaust because the trails do not show up on the infrared satellite images, which use temperature to "see" and the temperature of these "ship clouds" is pretty close to the surrounding air temperature and thus don't show up as well. Here is an infrared satellite taken from the same time:

Ireland has a great website dedicated to following ship trails.