An extremely rare “horseshoe cloud” was spotted over the American town of Battle Mountain in Nevada.
The photos of the unusual atmospheric phenomenon were taken by resident Christy Grimes and posted on Twitter by the National Weather Service.
One of the rarest clouds ever. This was taken over Battle Mountain, Nevada, USA on 8 March 2018.
It's called a horseshoe cloud for obvious reasons. #nvwx
Credit goes to eagle-eye Christy Grimes. pic.twitter.com/XgQDY77ZzM— NWS Elko (@NWSElko) March 9, 2018
And naturally, all the meme-makers got to work.
People were being reminded of moustaches, staples and a certain Microsoft paper clip.
omg god’s mustache fell off https://t.co/Blj2V8PATa— Julia Carrie Wong (@juliacarriew) March 9, 2018
Looks more like a wire staple. pic.twitter.com/tdr4ahQBpc— Dave Walde (@Inspectorpyro) March 9, 2018
There were conspiracy theories.
The portal is open pic.twitter.com/lAMgKtHMWe— jack mcgraw (@redmcgraw1) March 10, 2018
That's literally a UFO exhaust port. Don't lie to me. https://t.co/4IrVB7baBs— julian of norwich (@Julianmunoz) March 10, 2018
But in general, people had a lot of love and appreciation for the odd-looking cloud.
Woooow that is fantastic pic.twitter.com/ifndLVtcze— Jin Woo Hin (@JinWooHin1) March 10, 2018
This is awesome. I am 66 yrs old and this is the first time I have seen this cloud formation before. I have seen some wicked and weird formations but not like that. Sweet pic.Thank you for sharing that ! By the way I am a Storm Spotter .— Peg Gossard (@stormybaker65) March 10, 2018
Amazing and beautiful!— Elizabeth Reede (@ElizabethReede) March 10, 2018
According to Brian Boyd, senior meteorologist at the United States National Weather Service in Elko, Nevada, the unusual shape of the cloud is the result of a rare phenomenon known as the “horseshoe vortex”.
He said: “On days with flat puffy cumulus clouds, some weak updrafts form and drive the clouds upward. In certain cases, it can also create a horizontal vortex (perpendicular to what a tornado would be).
“At some lower altitude, the normal atmospheric winds catch it and blow the middle part forward, which allows the ends to trail behind.
“It’s all still spinning, but as the winds continue to blow stronger in the middle, it becomes quickly tenuous and soon dissipates. That is, the visible cloud dissipates.”
Mr Boyd says the phenomenon does not last long, adding: “You have to be in the right place, right time, and looking up. The moral is: take your camera with you.”
Ms Grimes said she was right outside her home when she spotted the horseshoe cloud.
She said: “I thought it was neat looking and that my family wouldn’t believe that I seen such a strange-shaped cloud so I took the pictures.
“I had no idea it was so rare. My sister sent it to our local weather Facebook page to ask what it was.”