LOOK: Cloud Formation Over Minnesota Looks Eerily Similar to the Ocean

by Shelby Scott
Photo by Patrick Pleul/picture alliance via Getty Images

A photo of swirling gray clouds over a Minnesota roadway has gone viral as they resemble a dark, stormy sea. The photo is so unusual that it has the internet arguing over its authenticity.

According to Newsweek, the fascinating photo of the strange cloud formation was captured by Minnesota resident Theresa Birgin Lewis. Per the outlet, there are four main types:

  • Cirro-form clouds, which lie high and have a wispy appearance
  • Cumulo-form clouds, which are the puffy, white, cotton-ball-like ones we tend to see on a sunny day
  • Strato-form clouds, which are wide and blanket-like
  • Nimbo-form clouds, which form amid rainy weather and combine elements of the prior three cloud types

Generally speaking, the photo above doesn’t specifically demonstrate just any one of these traits. As such, experts are struggling with how to classify the cloud. Its appearance is so strange that while some viewers are in awe, others have suggested the photo is fake.

Katia Friedrich, an atmospheric and oceanic sciences professor at the University of Colorado, offered her input. And she isn’t exactly convinced that the photo is real.

“The picture looks fake to me,” she said. “First there seems to be a light source on the lower left and upper right—maybe now we have two suns? Second, it looks like the lower clouds are moving in from the left, while the upper cloud is thicker on the right, which might suggest that it moves in from the right.”

She also expressed confusion about why it slants toward us and why the upper part is so far in the background.

Are We Looking at a ‘New’ Type of Cloud?

Some experts and internet sleuths continue to argue that the weather phenomenon is fake. But others suggested that the cloud might be a “new type,” one that was only added to the International Cloud Atlas several years ago. Scientists have labeled this newly recognized phenomenon “asperitas.”

Tero Mielonen, an atmospheric scientist at the Finnish Meteorological Institute, offered his own insight regarding the ocean-like monster.

“The picture appears to be real,” he said, “and the cloud formation is called asperitas.”

The Atlas states that an asperitas, as seen in the viral image above, has well-defined, wave-like structures adorning its underside. It also boasts waves in the base. Scientists have compared the asperitas to “viewing a roughened sea from below the surface.”

Two cloud scientists at Imperial College London also agreed that we might be looking at an asperitas. Nonetheless, whether or not the photo is actually real, it had hordes of people confused.

“Every time I see this picture it f—s with my head so bad,” one Redditor wrote. A second user added, “It’s actually making my head hurt. My brain literally can’t process this.”