Forecast: 'Astonishing' New Cloud Type

If recognized, new variety would be first since 1951
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 15, 2009 3:01 PM CDT
Forecast: 'Astonishing' New Cloud Type
This June 20, 2006 photo taken by Jane Wiggins from a downtown Cedar Rapids, Iowa office building shows what may become the first new cloud type to be recognized by scientists since 1951.   (AP Photo/Jane Wiggins)

(Newser) – A photo taken by an Iowa paralegal may help secure the recognition of a new cloud type, USA Today reports. Meteorologists are analyzing the cloud's characteristics to determine whether it's an example of an unrecognized type. If the move to recognize the cloud type succeeds, undulus asperatus, whose Latin name means “turbulent undulation,” would be the first new variety recognized since 1951.

Consideration of undulus asperatus began in part because of a 2006 photo taken by Jane Wiggins of Cedar Rapids and posted on the website of the Cloud Appreciation Society. The possibility of a new type, helped along by the spread of digital cameras, shows what "changing, amorphous, ephemeral things clouds are," says the founder of the society.
(Read more clouds stories.)

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