Not-Quite-UFOs over the Bay on Monday

A UFO over Strawberry? | photo by Jarl Forsman
Lenticular clouds over the bay | photo by Maria Finn
Lenticular cloud formations over Issaquah Dock | photo by Tracey Kessler
The lenticular clouds shot from Main Dock | photo by Karen Cadenhead
Digital art inspired by the lenticular clouds | art by Tracey Kessler | post by Aditi Iyer

Evenings are popular times for a stroll around Waldo Point Harbor—on warm weather days especially, you’ll see residents out walking their dogs, children playing in the park, boaters taking a sunset cruise, and others enjoying the sunshine and scenery. If you happened to be out (or looking out of your window) this past Monday evening, however, you may have caught sight of something unusual—altocumulus standing lenticular clouds, or lenticular clouds for short.

Residents across the Bay Area, including many in our own floating homes community, photographed these otherworldly cloud formations. Some described them as flying saucer or UFO–shaped; others noted they looked like stacks of pancakes. This isn’t the first time these lenticular clouds have been observed; back in 2016, Donna Lunsford of Gate 6 1/2 caught a similar cloud formation over the bay one evening, noting “we kept waiting for a UFO to emerge from its cloud cover!”

According to the National Weather Service, lenticular clouds form where fast-moving air, including winds like those experienced in the bay on Monday evening, moves up and over mountains or similar geographical barriers so that it is flowing essentially perpendicular to the direction the air above the barrier is flowing.

The resulting clouds develop at the crests of these waves of air, continually growing and dissipating, and creating an unusual and beautiful tableau in the sky. Tracey Kessler, one of our very own local artists here in Sausalito, was so inspired she created a digital postcard (pictured above) from some images she captured of the lenticular cloud formations.

With some luck and favorable winds, we may experience these unique cloud formations again soon—in the meantime, for those who missed them, above is a collection of photographs taken (and art created!) by the residents of our floating homes community for your enjoyment!