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    Rough Seas or Clouds?

    By By Meghan Evans, Meteorologist
    August 14, 2011, 4:29:04 AM EDT

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    One of the cloud types our AccuWeather.com Facebook fans ask about most often looks like a rough sea, taking on a surreal appearance.

    They are called asperatus clouds, which is a newly recognized cloud type. Meteorologists began campaigning for asperatus clouds to have their own classification in 2009.

    These ominous-looking clouds have been observed in many areas of the globe, from the United States to Australia.

    What Factors Cause Their Choppy Ocean Appearance?

    There is likely an abundance of heat in the atmosphere in order to produce enough energy for the dramatic, rolling formations of asperatus clouds.

    Another theory is the interaction of very moist air (often on the fringes of thunderstorm complexes) with very dry air.


    The darkness of the clouds is likely due to the large amount of water vapor.

    All clouds are made up of tiny water droplets and/or ice crystals. Typically, the water droplets scatter all light, making clouds appear white. If the clouds get thick enough or high enough, all the sunlight does not make it through, thus giving the cloud a gray look.


    Are They an Omen of Stormy Weather?

    This answer may be surprising. Asperatus clouds are not necessarily accompanied by stormy weather. In fact, they have often been observed without the development of thunderstorms.

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