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'Surf's up on the alien cloud'? Spooky formation spotted on Washington state's Mt. Rainier

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'Surf's up on the alien cloud'? Spooky formation spotted on Washington state's Mt. Rainier{ }(Photo: Ross Troxa)

SEATTLE, Wash. (KOMO) – Mt. Rainier in Washington state is known for being a frequent canvas for lenticular clouds to dance around and put on spooky alien-like formations, and this past Tuesday was no different.

But this wasn't an ordinary lenticular cloud display; Ross Troxa captured a rare event on top of a rare event!

The huge mass that looks either straight out of "Independence Day" -- or possibly for the uber sci-fi geeks, the saucer section of the Starship Enterprise after it just separated -- is an example of lenticular clouds. Those are caused by the turbulence as moist air moves over Mt. Rainier and the rising motion causes it to cool just enough to make a cloud.

But look on top of the cloud -- there are small waves!

Those appear to be a budding "Kelvin-Helmholtz" formation. Those are caused by wind shear, which happens when you have wind blowing the opposite direction above the top of the cloud layer versus right on the cloud top, causing a friction.

The upper level wind "pushes" at the top of the cloud, making those wave-like formations on its top.