Wild cloud behavior

Now I have my all sky camera up, I watch more and more time-lapse videos. I noticed again (I knew this before) that sometimes the clouds in one layer move in a total different direction then another. It’s not uncommon to see a 90 degree difference. Of course that looks spectacular, and it is probably an indication that the atmosphere is a bit unstable. What I’m wondering if there is some meteorological conclusion/prediction that in general can be made from this observations. Some of you are probably meteorologist. Any remarks that apply to this situation?

(the word wild in the title was added because the title needs to be at least 15 characters :wink: )

Wind shear can be conducive to the formation of thunderstorms. Depending on the altitude the wind shear takes place, it’s also an added headache/hazard to aviation…particularly for landings & takeoffs.

We get that a lot here on the Gulf coast. I’ve seen different layers moving in 4 different direction at one time. When the Gulf breeze kicks up all kinds of fun things can happen. In this videos you can see the clouds building on the horizon as the sea breeze starts to push on shore, it’s like a fist fight between the winds.

Hi @sunny,
The atmosphere is composed of layers of air with differences in temperatures that often create inversions where the change in temperature discourages mixing between the layers. Each layer is moving in a generally different speed and direction. A balloon or soaring pilot would have difficulty flying if they didnt understand where the air was moving in each layer. A good sailplane/hang glider/paraglider pilot becomes very knowledgable about the movements and the interaction between the layers which can create wave like lines, turbulence, slow lift, and changes in speed and direction. Think about a cold front approaching you it will be a layer of cooler heavier air sliding under the warmer air, but there are many reasons but mainly all caused by the heat of the sun warming the air that touches what the sun warms. As I think you are from New Zealand I will point you to a page created by one of your top paraglider pilots Louis Tapper about the weather. You would be interested in learning about a ‘Skew chart’:


Or search for ‘skew-t’, as an example http://thevane.gawker.com/nerdin-it-up-how-to-find-instability-by-hand-on-a-skew-1706378907
cheers Ian :slight_smile:

that’s an interesting read!
thanks for the links
(but I’m from almost the complete opposite side of the world :wink: )

yeah, next to the coast you get even cooler movies. nice!

great videos - what direction are you pointing the camera at and what kind of camera are you using ?

It is pointing south west. The camera is just a cheap Chinese Foscam knockoff.

This is how hot air balloons navigate as well. It’s amazing how those guys hit ground targets in competitions.