No They Aren't Flying Saucers They're Lenticular Clouds
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No They Aren't Flying Saucers They're Lenticular Clouds

This is about a particular type of cloud often called a lenticular cloud that is oftem mistaken for a flying saucer of UFO. Pilots normally avoid these clouds because of the severe turbulence associated with them, but they are sought out by sailplane pilots because of the lift they provide.

Technically they’re known as “altocumulus standing lenticularis” clouds that are stationary lens-shaped clouds formed at right angles to the way the prevailing wind is blowing and are often formed over the summit of mountains.  The Author became first aware of these clouds while flying from Hartford,Connecticut, to Clevland, Ohio.  There was a moderate wind blowing from the west that set up a series of lenticluar clouds over the Catskills in New York that caused a train of these clouds to follow the prevailing wind all the way to westernConnecticut.  The other name for these clouds is “rotor clouds”, otherwise it was a clear day with a wind blowing of about twenty miles per hour, or as pilots say clear air - visibility unlimited (CAVU).

The closer I came to the Catskills the more lenticluar clouds there were until the sky was overcast by them to about 305 coverage,  Another thing that was quite apparent was the air was extremely unstable like flying on a rough sea with giant waves that were around 1,000 feet high.  If the plane was held on a straight and level course it was constantly rising and dropping about 1,000 feet just like you were riding waves.  Unlike the normal effects of updrafts and downdrafts the motion was quite slow not causing the sudden jolts you normally encounter.  As far as I could tell this turbulence was caused by a burble effect sometimes encountered to the east of the Catskills.

This type of cloud formation happens when stable moist air flows over a mountain or mountain range with a series of large-scale standing waves that can form on the downwind side.  Lenticular Clouds can form sometimes at the crests of these waves, sometimes long strings of these lenticular clouds that are known as a wave cloud forms.  

Lenticular clouds are something regular airplane pilots try too avoid because they are associated with severe turbulence because of the rotor systems accompanying them.  Sailplane pilots seek these clouds out because of the lift they provide.  It was by riding rotor clouds that set the distance and altitude records in a sailplane of over 3,000 kilometers and more then 14,938 meters.  Sailplane pilots often call these clouds “lennies” because of the large vertical air movement.  The orientation of the clouds makes it easy to predict where this vertical air motion occurs.  

Lenticular clouds are often mistaken for flying saucers orUFOs because of their lens like shape.  Even though they may look like a flying saucer they are just clouds.

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