Wavy “asperitas” clouds spotted in the sky Sunday

Many of you sent photos of "weird", wavy cloud formations like these:

These “wavy” clouds are known in the meteorology world as asperitasLatin for “roughness”, and it is a fitting descriptor of the clouds that develop in a turbulent environment.

These clouds were formerly known as "undulatus asperatus" before being formally recognized by the World Meteorological Organization as "asperitas" in the International Cloud Atlas. While "undulatus" are wavy in nature, they are classified as being more gentle in form. "Asperitas " clouds illustrate the atmospheric turbulence that occurs during heavy rain and thunderstorms.

The atmosphere is an ocean

It may not seem logical to think of the atmosphere as an ocean, but the gases that make up the atmosphere are fluid and behave in a similar matter to liquids. As a result, the air rises and falls due to similar fluid dynamics to liquids, including pressure/density changes as well as temperature changes.

When we think of the atmosphere (an ocean of gases) as behaving similar to the (liquid) ocean, it makes sense that turbulence within the atmospheric ocean would result in crashing waves as seen via the clouds.

Did you spot asperitas over the Tennessee Valley? If so, share your photo with us!