Weather Blog

Amazing 'surf' clouds over Lake Tahoe

Amazing 'surf' clouds over Lake Tahoe
Photo of K-H clouds over Lake Tahoe's Diamond Peak, courtesy Darren Springer.

Surfing is quite popular along California's shores, but near the state's eastern border there was a different kind of surfing going on.

Darren Springer posted this great video of "Kelvin-Hemoltz" clouds over Diamond Peak Ski report at Lake Tahoe (technically on the Nevada side of the border there):


They're caused by when you have wind shear -- that is, layers of air moving in different directions. As those layers interact with clouds, you can get turbulence that causes these impressive wave-like formations to occur. (A much more in-depth physical description can be found on the Univ. of Illinois Urbana-Champaign website

The cloud formations aren't foreign to the Pacific Northwest -- we've had a few sightings over the past few years.

They're pretty to look at on the ground, but for pilots, they signal an area to avoid as it can be a source of severe turbulence.