Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Remarkable Cloud-Condo Interaction

This picture was taken on Feb. 5 by JR Hott, owner of Panhandle Helicopter, 
The photograph shows waves of clouds breaking over the tops of condominiums lining the beaches of Panama City, Fla.
Created by moisture-laden air moving inland from over the Gulf, the clouds form as the air rolls over the buildings, rising just high enough to cool and condense the moisture into visible water droplets.

Meteorologist Dan Satterfield Explains
"Cool air offshore was very nearly at the saturation point, with a temperature near 20ºC and a dew point of about 19.5 degrees C. The air at this temperature can only hold a certain amount of water vapor, and how much it can hold depends heavily on the temperature. Drop the temperature, and it can no long hold as much water vapor, so some of it will condense out and a cloud will form.

"In this case, the air was cooled by lifting it about 50 meters over the top of the condos," Satterfield continues. "A parcel of unsaturated air will cool when lifted at a rate of 1 degree C per 100 meters. In this case, it probably cooled about 0.5 degrees C, but that was all it took! On the back side of the condos, the air slowly sinks back down and warms at the same rate. As it warms the air can hold more water vapor and the cloud evaporates and disappears!"

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