On April 5th I was on Antelope Island State Park photographing birds and bison in variable lighting conditions plus there was a weather front coming in and the air aloft was unstable. People who live near mountains have a saying that goes “mountains make their own weather” and typically here in northern Utah that means that the clouds gather over the mountain tops and they did that day. While traveling to the south end of the island I noticed the beginnings of a wave cloud formation over the snow-capped Wasatch Mountain Range to the east.
When I reached the Garr Ranch area at the south end of the island I simply had to jump out and take images of the wave clouds or as they are also known, Kelvin-Helmholtz Instability Clouds.
About these clouds from earthsky.org:
You’ll often see the characteristic wave structure in this type of cloud when two different layers of air in our atmosphere are moving at different speeds. The upper layers of air are moving at higher speeds and will often scoop the top of the cloud layer into these wave-like rolling structures.
The clouds often form on windy days, when there’s a difference in densities of the air, for example, during a temperature inversion. They’re often good indicators of atmospheric instability and the presence of turbulence for aircraft.
It’s widely believed that these waves in the sky inspired the swirls in van Gogh’s masterpiece Starry Night.
The clouds I saw on April 5th didn’t have as much of a pronounced wave top as the wave cloud formations I had seen on November 26th of 2015. That isn’t unusual because the clouds and conditions were different.
This particular wave cloud formation didn’t last long and a few minutes later when I stopped to photograph them again further north on the island the waves were breaking up and by the time I got half way to the north end of the island the cloud waves were completely gone.
When I am out photographing birds I always look for other animals, flowers, insects and I also keep an eye on the sky. Seeing the Kelvin-Helmholtz wave clouds over the Wasatch Mountains as viewed from the south end of Antelope Island State Park made my day.
I hope that one day I will be able to photograph these wave cloud formations at sunrise or sunset when the clouds are kissed with gorgeous colors. Until then…
Life is good.
P.S; There are plenty of clouds here this morning and a mixture of snow and rain may fall throughout the day. That is April along the Wasatch Front.