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MAMMATUS Clouds over Gibsonia, PA June 26th 1998
Maybe you recall this Friday evening when many in the Pittsburgh,
Wheeling, and Steubenville areas were treated to this rare and
startling sight of a skyful of MAMMATUS clouds at sunset. The
following photos were taken by George Mikulan, retired WFO Pittsburgh
Lead Forecaster, looking south from Gibsonia Pennsylvania between 8
and 9 pm June 26th 1998.
MAMMATUS clouds are typically associated with strong thunderstorms
(cumulonimbus clouds) and very turbulent conditions. When Mammatus
appear at levels below 10,000 feet, hanging below the base of
cumulonimbus, meteorologists worry about tornados forming. However,
the Mammatus of June 26th were likely above 20,000 feet, and so were
likely outgrowths from the anvil tops of distant energetic
thunderstorms to the south that evening. Cloud names come from Latin.
Mammatus refers to the clouds' rolling shape which remind some of
cow's udders or breasts. Cumulonimbus comes from two Latin words:
Cumulus meaning "heaping piles" and Nimbus meaning "giving rain".
Photos courtesy of George A. Mikulan, Gibsonia PA