A photo of some wave-shaped clouds is making the rounds on social media and it may have you wondering if it's legit. Amy Hunter grabbed her phone when she spotted the jaw-dropping clouds on Tuesday. Hunter said wave-shaped clouds were spotted rolling over Smith Mountain near Roanoke.
"Very cool clouds rolling over the mountain tops at Smith Mountain Lake this evening. They are called Kelvin-Helmholtz clouds. I sent the photo to our local news station and the meteorologist replied to me saying they are very rare and usually not this defined. 😮", she wrote on facebook, sharing the beautiful image.
WTHR Meteorologist Sean Ash says "Tsunami clouds" may be a nickname for the clouds but they are actually called the Kelvin-Helmholtz cloud and are pretty rare.
The Kelvin-Helmholtz cloud is named after the scientist who studied them.
"Kelvin-Helmholtz waves develop due to differing wind speeds in the atmosphere. Because the air is saturated at this level of the atmosphere, a cloud can form," WSLS reports. "At the top of the wave, the air is moving faster than the air at the bottom of the wave. The differing wind speed and density of the air from top to bottom is what allows the cloud to billow over like an ocean wave."