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Lenticular cloud over Lake Tahoe looks like a UFO — and is insanely beautiful

SF Gate logo SF Gate 5/12/2018 Amy Graff
a sunset over a city: A long snake-like lenticular cloud above Lake Tahoe at sunset on May 11, 2018. © Provided by Hearst Communications, Inc A long snake-like lenticular cloud above Lake Tahoe at sunset on May 11, 2018. a screenshot of a cell phone: A fierce storm pummeled the northern Sierra Friday, March 16, 2018, and snow piled up everything. Many in social media were quick to share images of the impressive snowfall. © Provided by Hearst Communications, Inc A fierce storm pummeled the northern Sierra Friday, March 16, 2018, and snow piled up everything. Many in social media were quick to share images of the impressive snowfall.

The sky above Lake Tahoe put on a spectacular show Thursday night with a long lenticular cloud turning different shades of pinks and oranges.

a large tall tower with a sunset in the background: A long snake-like lenticular cloud above Lake Tahoe at sunset on May 11, 2018.

A long snake-like lenticular cloud above Lake Tahoe at sunset on May 11, 2018.
© Provided by Hearst Communications, Inc

The rushing stream of condensed moisture across the sky and appeared twisted and striated, like stretched out salt water taffy.

a screenshot of a cell phone in a room: A fierce storm pummeled the northern Sierra Friday, March 16, 2018, and snow piled up everything. Many in social media were quick to share images of the impressive snowfall. © Provided by Hearst Communications, Inc A fierce storm pummeled the northern Sierra Friday, March 16, 2018, and snow piled up everything. Many in social media were quick to share images of the impressive snowfall.

Folks living in Tahoe posted images to social media and some noted that it looked like a spaceship or UFO.

a close up of a snow covered slope: A fierce storm pummeled the northern Sierra Friday, March 16, 2018, and snow piled up everything. Many in social media were quick to share images of the impressive snowfall. © Provided by Hearst Communications, Inc A fierce storm pummeled the northern Sierra Friday, March 16, 2018, and snow piled up everything. Many in social media were quick to share images of the impressive snowfall. a screenshot of a video game: A fierce storm pummeled the northern Sierra Friday, March 16, 2018, and snow piled up everything. Many in social media were quick to share images of the impressive snowfall. © Provided by Hearst Communications, Inc A fierce storm pummeled the northern Sierra Friday, March 16, 2018, and snow piled up everything. Many in social media were quick to share images of the impressive snowfall.

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an orange sunset in the background: A long snake-like lenticular cloud above Lake Tahoe at sunset on May 11, 2018.

A long snake-like lenticular cloud above Lake Tahoe at sunset on May 11, 2018.
© Provided by Hearst Communications, Inc

Bonnie Gronowski of South Lake Tahoe put together a collection of photos capturing the beautiful scene for Facebook.

a screenshot of a cell phone: A fierce storm pummeled the northern Sierra Friday, March 16, 2018, and snow piled up everything. Many in social media were quick to share images of the impressive snowfall. © Provided by Hearst Communications, Inc A fierce storm pummeled the northern Sierra Friday, March 16, 2018, and snow piled up everything. Many in social media were quick to share images of the impressive snowfall. Tahoe roads were a mess Friday, March 16, 2018, with whiteout conditions and snow pilling up on roads. © Provided by Hearst Communications, Inc Tahoe roads were a mess Friday, March 16, 2018, with whiteout conditions and snow pilling up on roads.

"You need high, fast winds for them to form, and we get them often here in Tahoe," Gronowski explained on Facebook. "They light up at sunset and the colors change dramatically by the second.

She added: "They appear in different sizes, sometimes only as round disks. Spring and summer produce long ones, like this one."

Lenticular clouds typically form at higher elevations when high winds blow moist air over mountainous areas, causing condensation and the formation of clouds.

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