November 3, 2020

Sometimes something truly special happens and we watch in awe. Other times that happens on a contentious election day and it serves as a great distraction to bring us together to embrace it and try to figure it out. What this cloud did today was amazing, and right over our region.

Lenticular cloud jet streak November 3



Below is the story of the transformation this clod experienced, which was captured by many photos and a satellite loop you must see (if you are a weather geek like me).


Lenticular Cloud

At first, there was a little cloud with rounded edges. It’s the ‘flying saucer’ clouds often seen over western US mountains where air is forced around the tall peaks, then converges and  condenses on the other side. When we see them, there are usually some fast winds at work aloft.

The first photo I saw was from Howard Bernstein, a meteorologist from WUSA. He said this was near Sugarloaf Mountain. Not common, but has happened before.

November 3 Lenticular Sugarloaf


Then I Christina Willis sent me this picture near Frederick.  It looks like the same cloud, near the same location, but with a little extra cloud formation on top.

November 3 lenticular Frederick


1 Hour Later

Fast forward an hour, move about 30 miles northeast, and here is the same cloud appearing to have stacked a few more lenticulars on top of it. A triple decker!

This was in New Market, MD by Lake Linganore.



Edge Of The Longer Cloud

Another hour and farther northeast, here was the view of a larger, distinct cloud line over Sykesville in Carroll County, MD. Thanks to Sally Ebare for helping to complete the story.

November 3 cloud edge Sykesville


This cloud grew quickly on upper level winds and expanded to the northeast. It was only about 30 miles wide, but a few hundred miles long.

November 3 satellite 2 PM Tuesday


Satellite Loop

This is the fun part. Watch the little cloud in the first image quickly grown and expand east, while the line remained in place.

I am sorry I did not pause the last frame in this loop. It spans just a few hours, but shows the growth very well.




Magnificent Sunset:

Perhaps the best part of this experience. Here was my view as that long line was breaking up just after 5 PM EST.


Sunset November 3


So, What Happened?

Surface Weather

There were no surface features, but strong winds prevails between two air masses marked by High Pressure to the north and south

November 3 weather Tuesday afternoon


I asked the question on Twitter and had sone other meteorologists responded.  Check out the answer from my former Chief at WBAL- Tom Tasselmyer.



There was some kink or weakness to the jet stream. Not sure if it was the jet streak I suggested, or influence from the mountains propagating waves downstream

It was certainly very cool. If you saw it, you had the blessing of a distraction on this Election Day. A cool view of clouds and great sunset.  No rain. No snow. So purely academic for us geeks.


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