Mt. St. Helens at Sunrise

I got this picture in my email, sent by Edna who's wondering if it's real. It looks real to me. The picture is accompanied by the following text, which also sounds accurate to me (as a non-meteorologist):

MT. St. Helens, which sits about 30 miles from Vancouver, as the crow flies, continues to spew ash, while it is forming a lava dome in the crater and still having minor tremors. In this sunrise shot, she appears to be blowing smoke rings (and anything so benign is welcomed, given recent history.) What forms the "smoke rings" is the air flowing over the mountain getting pushed up higher as it goes up and over the top. The moisture content and initial temperature are just right so that the moisture condenses from a vapor to small particles at the higher altitude. When the moving air moves past the peak and comes down again, the particles evaporate back to an invisible vapor. The two "pancakes" describe that there are two layers of air for which this is happening, thus making this awesome picture possible.
And here's another photo of a 'pancake cloud' (also sent by Edna). I don't know where this one was taken.

Photos Places Science

Posted on Tue Apr 12, 2005


This is real. When I was a weather observer for the Navy in the late 80's to early 90's this was taught in school and then I had the chance to observe it first hand while visiting my brother in Colorado. I seem to remember a supposed "UFO" picture somewhere that was also debunked by an explanation of this phenomena. 100% real... will do some research tomorrow to see if I can find some references... if someone else doesn't beat me to it, which I hope they will. But it is real...
Posted by Mark-N-Isa  in  Midwest USA  on  Tue Apr 12, 2005  at  08:20 PM
A very good example of standing lenticular cloud formation. High winds aloft!
Posted by martinelli  on  Tue Apr 12, 2005  at  08:24 PM
Posted by Myst  on  Tue Apr 12, 2005  at  10:15 PM
I enjoy those lentilular clouds shaped liked beans... and those testicular clouds shaped like- well, beans. And what do they call them? Mammograndous or whatever? I do like big pillowy clouds. I see the little mushroom guys from the original Fantasia film in the thread pics. That's a weird movie
Posted by Hairy Houdini  on  Tue Apr 12, 2005  at  10:50 PM
Second pic is Mt Fuji, yeah?
Posted by Tim  on  Wed Apr 13, 2005  at  12:17 AM
Harry Houdini: Yep, those would be mammatus clouds you're speaking of. Here's a picture I googled:
Posted by Terry  in  Colorado Springs, CO  on  Wed Apr 13, 2005  at  02:05 AM
Yeah, the second pic is Mt Fuji. The physical explanation makes sense to me but maybe it can be proven by calculating the heights of these mountains with respect to sea level and the climate at the time of the photograph.

It would be a pretty amazing thing to see as most mountains I've gazed upon just have fuzzy clouds at their peak.
Posted by Beijingjib  in  Beijing  on  Wed Apr 13, 2005  at  02:12 AM
Here's a slightly less impressive but the same natural effect on Mt Fuji when the snow is melting during spring.

Posted by Beijingjib  in  Beijing  on  Wed Apr 13, 2005  at  02:23 AM
We don't get anything that pretty here. Only cool things we have are rocks: one shaped like a wave, one standing in the middle of the dessert all by itself and some silly rocks called the pinnacles that are just tall pillars.

Stupid rocks

Posted by Nettie  in  Perth, Western Australia  on  Wed Apr 13, 2005  at  03:36 AM
That is bloody beautiful.

I live at the foot of a long-dormant volcano. Does that count as cool?
Posted by Boo  in  The Land of the Haggii...  on  Wed Apr 13, 2005  at  04:09 AM
Hey Nettie, I've been to that stupid Wave Rock...there's a cave formation nearby as well, called the Hippo's yawn. (I went on a tour with rellies from the UK.)
Posted by Smerk  in  to mischief  on  Wed Apr 13, 2005  at  04:50 AM
These are real. Your pictures are really good examples of this effect and should be picked up as reference material.
Posted by Bill  on  Wed Apr 13, 2005  at  06:57 AM
I believe the pictures are real. This happens a lot in Pico Island, Azores. We say that "Pico has a hat" and it means that the weather will be bad the next day. I've never seen Pico with a "double hat", though. That sunrise picture is absurdly beautiful!
Posted by corax  in  Lisbon - Portugal  on  Wed Apr 13, 2005  at  08:21 AM
These are real - lenticular orographic clouds. They're not rare either in mountainous areas: I've seen them several times in the Spanish Sierra Nevada, the Pyrenees and the Alps. The St Helens shot with the red from sunrise is beatifull though.
Posted by LaMa  in  Europe  on  Wed Apr 13, 2005  at  09:26 AM
The photo may be real, and the clouds may be real, but the mountain shown is NOT St. Helens.
Posted by Seabecker  in  Seattle  on  Wed Apr 13, 2005  at  04:12 PM
The second pic is Fuji... the first one is St. Helens I'm pretty sure. Check it's profile...
Posted by Mark-N-Isa  in  Midwest USA  on  Wed Apr 13, 2005  at  04:47 PM
I knew a guy, once, a Corporal in the Army, who would have truly viewed sights like these, as the Power of Odin.
Posted by stork  on  Wed Apr 13, 2005  at  06:29 PM
Here's the Mt. St. Helens web cam:
Posted by Vic K.  on  Wed Apr 13, 2005  at  06:35 PM
One-eyed Gods with Ravens rule
Posted by Hairy Houdini  on  Wed Apr 13, 2005  at  06:41 PM
Why did I think that Thor was the leading Norse god? Aah...done my research...Thor was Odin's son, Odin dies, Thor is the most popular of the gods among humans...Norse myth not my forte.
Posted by Smerk  in  to mischief  on  Wed Apr 13, 2005  at  07:00 PM
Wonder what ancient man thought of these 20,000ish years ago - must have totally freaked them out. Would be interesting to know if they were seen as a good sign or a bad sign.
Posted by JoBi  in  Sydney, Australia  on  Wed Apr 13, 2005  at  07:01 PM
Wonder what ancient man thought of these 20,000ish years ago - must have totally freaked them out - JoBi

Probably wouldn't freak them out? Especially if they lived near the volcano at all times, some of them would've been making pretty clouds without anything more serious happening (look at Mt Vesuvius, or Krakatoa).
Posted by Smerk  in  to mischief  on  Wed Apr 13, 2005  at  07:16 PM
This Odin is not known in The Land Of My Birth, but the oldest of our people still speak of The Angry Mountain God Puka. This corrupt God will spew his red hot ejecta, and laugh as you run. They say that Puka has no limit to his discharges, a twisted sense of humor, and a great taste for vengance, much like the USA Bush. Even after having lived in his shadow, I am unafraid. Nor am I afraid of Puka. RRRrrrrrraoul
Posted by Raoul  on  Wed Apr 13, 2005  at  08:35 PM
These clouds do like to form over volcanoes . . . Mount Ruapehu, the active volcanic skiing mountain of New Zealand, gets some lovely elongated ones in autumn and spring from western winds.
Posted by DFSTuckey  in  Auckland New Zealand  on  Thu Apr 14, 2005  at  12:57 AM
The clouds are real. We see them from time to time, here in the Pacific MW, but not over Mt St Helens. They are always over Mt Rainier. The first picture is that of Mt Rainier.
Posted by Polago  in  Puyallup, WA  on  Sun Apr 17, 2005  at  01:58 PM
this is mad
Posted by brenton  in  australia  on  Mon Apr 18, 2005  at  07:58 PM
The mountain with the red caps is most likely Mt. Rainier from an angle not usually photographed. Notice the snowy glacier at the top of the mountain? Mt. St. Helen's dome has not filled in yet and has no 'peak' to speak of, being mostly shallow in the dome building area.
Posted by Catalyst  in  Washington State  on  Wed Apr 20, 2005  at  04:19 PM
Update: It is Mount Rainier photographed from the Olympia, Wa. area. The clouds shown are lenticular. Other examples can be found on the web. The clouds at sunrise are hard to beat for the "Wow" effect.
Posted by Catalyst  on  Thu Apr 21, 2005  at  06:39 PM
that is a super cool photo you googled. I have used it as my background on my 'puter. AWESOME ! I can see Mt. St Helens, Mt. Hood and Mt. Adams right here in the area where I live and see some asweome clouds often. I dont know their proper names. JUst the ones we give them !!
Posted by Jewel  in  Stevenson WA  on  Sun Apr 24, 2005  at  07:35 PM
The second pic is Mt. Fuji
I'm currently stationed in Japan and have been to that lake at the bottom of Mt. Fuji. I'm also a native of the Azores where some people have mentioned Pico. Sorry but pico does not get nearly that much snow. If it gets any it will be on the peak only.
You can check my site that contains some photos of Pico with a similar "ring" cloud. Yes that picture looks a lot like Pico, but I can assure you it's a very nice picture of FUJI. When the smog is not too bad here in Japan I can see FUJI, it's only 25 KM.
Posted by Mario  in  Tokyo  on  Tue May 03, 2005  at  07:58 AM
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