Stunning ‘Von Karman’ Cloud Formations Seen Swirling Off Baja California

Satellite imagery captured on May 8 showed stunning cloud formations known as ‘von Karman vortices’ over Guadalupe Island, 150 miles west of Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula.

The formations “occur when the prevailing wind is diverted by elevated land features such as islands, mountaintops, or volcanoes … causing the air, and its subsequent clouds, to rotate into a spiral shape,” according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The phenomenon was named after Theodore von Karman, a cofounder of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and one of the first scientists to describe the formation.

Credit: NOAA Satellites via Storyful

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