Spectacular mammatus or ‘mammary clouds’ form over Sydney as storms swirl nearby

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Updated

January 02, 2019 22:17:43

As hail, heavy rain and storms continue to hit multiple areas across New South Wales, keen weather-watchers have documented unusual cloud formations called mammatus, or “mammary clouds”, in the skies over parts of Sydney.

Key points:

  • The unusual clouds appear as rounded pouches or bulges under the base of a cloud
  • They are generally associated with severe weather or storm activity
  • Cloud-spotters have posted photos to the ABC Weather Obsessed Facebook group

A number of people have posted snapshots to our ABC Weather Obsessed Facebook group documenting the clouds.

Mammatus clouds appear as rounded pouches or bulges hanging underneath the base of a cloud, and are generally associated with severe weather or storm activity.

The word “mammatus” is a Latin term that means breast, udder or mammary gland, and the clouds form their distinctive shape when cold air sinks below the cloud.

According to the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) Storm Spotters Handbook, the clouds are “dramatic, beautiful adornments, especially when side-lit”.

Mammatus clouds are often associated with extreme weather, but when they are formed in the sky it merely indicates “descending pockets of small droplets or ice crystals from an anvil surface”, BOM said.

And, according to BOM, while they might look pretty dramatic and often appear around the same time as severe storms, mammatus clouds themselves are perfectly harmless.

Topics:

weather,

storm-event,

sydney-2000,

nsw,

australia

First posted

January 02, 2019 21:55:17



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