Aug 29 2012
Clouds like this are my very favorite because they resemble smooth lozenges or flying saucers. Sometimes they’re in odd compound shapes like this hat on Mt. Hood.
Lenticular clouds are most common near mountains because the wind hits the mountain, creates an updraft and becomes a large standing wave. When moisture condenses at the top of the wave, a stationary lenticular cloud forms there. The long lozenge shapes are usually perpendicular to the wind. They sure don’t look that way!
When the wind hits the mountain the waves look like this. Notice the stationary clouds at crests A and B.
For really cool clouds you have to visit the mountains.
(photo of cloud by Yapin Wu via Wikimedia Commons. Diagram of wave lift by Dake on Wikimedia Commons. Click on each one to see its original.)