Mammatus clouds in Texas: why do they form?

Clouds mammatus or mastodontic, as they are also known, they are not clouds themselves, but atmospheric patterns that are visible thanks to the clouds. For some people, they are the harbinger of tornadoes and catastrophes, but what is true in this statement and what causes them? It is something that we will try to answer below.

First of all, it must be said that they are very beautiful. Colors can vary in the host cloud from bluish gray to reddish or gold., depending on the incidence of light. This phenomenon can last a few minutes or persist for hours; in any case, they will eventually fade and disappear.

The mammatus they have, without a doubt, a spectacular, strange and beautiful form. The first recorded document of this type of formation was made by William Clement Ley, in 1894.

Overview of mammatus clouds

Clouds mammatus they can only form when storm clouds are isolated aloft. That is, when there are no major air currents, descending or ascending.

This results in no rain., due to the presence of extremely dry and warm air that can only rise to a certain height. In some cases, a weak rain may occur, but it fails to reach the earth’s surface.

In summary, different hydrometeorological phenomena intervene to produce cumulonimbus or clouds mammatus. The most important characteristic of this phenomenon is the meeting between a humid and unstable atmosphere with a front of dry and warm air.

Any type of cloud that forms at its base, breasts or bags is called mammatus. That term comes from the Latin root mom, What does ‘mom’ mean? and hence its name.

formation of mammatus clouds

The process of cloud formation, in most cases, due to the rise of warm and humid air. When strong winds occur, a very extensive band of medium-high clouds usually also forms. This gives rise to what is called a cumulogenous anvil.

The cloud particles that are part of the elevated portions are carried by the wind. These formations can be gigantic during the dissipation phase. and reduce to medium-high cloudiness; “the moms” hang from there.

It should be noted that when the concentration level of ice crystals is very high, rain occurs. However, this saturated air heats up as it descends and the water particles that make it up begin to evaporate.

On the other hand, the air below the cloud is part of the unstable air trying to rise. The domed areas are a reflection of that air that, intermittently, seeks to raise the base of the cloud.

In this sense, it can be seen how the base of the cloud delineates a border between a relatively stable environment that tends to descend. This opposes another that seeks to ascend and is warmer, which generates the “mama” or cloudy bag.

Beliefs around these clouds

Although the clouds mammatus appear during tornadoes, they are not the ones that produce them as is commonly believed. On the contrary, what the experts assume is that the clouds mammatus are byproducts of tornadoes.

At this point, remember that most clouds mammatus they are generated from medium high levels in the atmosphere and from the clash of strong and opposite winds. Additionally, they remain distanced from storms, and can even occur when the storm has passed.

The type of phenomena that originate electrical storms, clouds mammatus and strong updrafts can be very dangerous, especially for air and sea navigators. Therefore, such clouds must be avoided at all costs.

The mammatus clouds in Texas

Due to its location and geography, the state of Texas in the United States presents a variability in its climate that is extreme in some cases. Different records in this sense show limits between -15 °C and more than 40 °C.

The state has a continental climate in the northeastern area, where there is a plateau. In the rest of the territory, it is subtropical. Likewise, summer is especially hot in the plains and the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, and dry in the west.

In general, Texas experiences sunny weather, particularly in the desert areas of El Paso, Amarillo, and the Far West, throughout most of the year. In contrast, the least sunny areas of Texas are Austin, Houston and San Antonio in the southeast.

In the central and northern part of the state, in late spring and early summer, tornadoes frequently form as a result of colliding air masses. Likewise, the state of Texas presents a high risk of hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico.

Something to have in mind

Although as a general rule this type of phenomenon originates offshore and weakens when it reaches the coast of the state, it can be very dangerous, especially due to the strength of its winds and the abundance of rain.

These events can take place at any time during the second semester of each year. Nevertheless, the probability increases as September approacheswhich is when they are most common.

On the other hand, in regions such as Lubbock and Amarillo, in the northwestern part of the state, summers can reach temperatures of over 40 °C and thunderstorms. This situation increases progressively as one advances towards the south of Texas, where there is an increasingly hotter and drier climate.

All these factors together and their variations throughout the year are precisely what favors the formation of clouds. mammatus in the state of Texas. Therefore, the ideal is to be able to plan the next trip to Texas taking into account these characteristics.

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