Breathtaking Cloud Tsunami Covers Florida Skyscrapers

Watch As The Amazing Cloud Tsunami Rolls Over Florida

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Some might call this a once in a life-time experience, but others might disagree and argue that this rare “cloud tsunami” phenomenon is just a fabulous moment which happens in extraordinary weather conditions, and all yo have to do is keep an eye out for it, and your trusty camera on hand.
Luckily, we all can now rejoice with pictures of this amazing phenomenon, since helicopter pilot, Mike Schaeffer was able to take photos of a cloud which swept across the sandy beaches of Florida and stumbled upon the skyscrapers which were close to shore, creating an beautiful tsunami effect.

After finishing a tour of Panama City shore, Mike Schaeffer observed that the condos on the beach were being swallowed by a very intriguing cloud, and it almost looked like the buildings were being threatened by a fearsome tsunami. The pilot continued his flight to the designated landing point, and after the helicopter was safe on the ground, he reported the wavy cloud to the helicopter owner, JR Hott, and they both took off again in order to take this amazing pictures.

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But what’s the scientific explanation for the amazing “Cloud Tsunami”?

Kelvin–Helmholtz instabilityThe term cloud tsunami is very improper, due to the fact that a “normal” tsunami involves damage and disaster, where as the phenomenon showed in the picture is nothing like that. The scientific term for this interesting weather event is a Kelvin–Helmholtz instability.
When friction velocity is present inside a continuous fluid or when there is enough friction between two fluids within he same container, the so called Kelvin–Helmholtz instability may occur.
In order to understand the phenomenon more clearly, all you have to do is imagine wind blowing over the surface of water, that causes the layers of the water layers to become instable, and this instability takes the form of the common waves we all know and love, especially surfers.

So what’s so weird about the Cloud Tsunami In Florida?

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Well, this amazing weather event usually occurs in areas with plains, where winds often change speed very fast, causing the cloud waves. And that’s why it was very interesting to see this on the shores of Panama City, Florida on February 5th, 2012.

The Cloud Appreciation Society declared that the cool offshore air had a temperature of 20 degrees Celsius, and by adding to its humidity, the cloud was formed, by cooling down the air.
In the case of or tsunami, the air was cooled by climbing on top of the extremely tall skyscrapers (now this event totally adds a more interesting spin to the idea of skyscrapers, doesn’t it?).

On the back side of the buildings, the air began to warm up as it slowly sunk back down, causing it to carry even more water vapors, and    slowly vanish from human sight. Even though it doesn’t happen very often, this cloud tsunami in Florida should remind us that sometimes, we have to slow down and look around us. You have no idea what you might be missing while you’re in a hurry.

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Below you can watch a short video that explains the Kelvin–Helmholtz instability, and also a short video of the cloud tsunami over Florida, on February 5th, 2012.

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