A Cool Lenticular Effect – The Cloud With The Silver Lining

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A Cool Lenticular Effect – The Cloud With The Silver Lining

17:36 – soon after reaching the end of the ridge, the view of the cloud formation looking across to Half Tree Hollow and Ladder Hill. The flag pole at the top of Ladder Hill is visible.
Clouds over St Helena Island.

A CASE OF BAD WIND | Darrin Henry

If every cloud has a silver lining story just waiting to be told, then today the lenticular effect is quite literally ours. We were out on a mini-hike, in search of inspiration for our daily photo challenge project, when a lenticular cloud formation came to the rescue. Not that we knew what it was at the time.

I’m sure the island must have been blown a few inches north; it’s been so blustery today! Swelly seas and gale force winds; that’s us at the moment.

The blowy conditions I’m guessing was the reason for the huge, squiggly cloud that loitered over the South West corner of the island today. Impervious to the wind it hung there for nearly two hours, showing off in the changing sunset light.


Don’t Drop The Fish

It was certainly a big bonus on our mini-hike. We were inside all day working on different projects and (because of the wind) had to drag ourselves outdoors for the sake of a new 365 photo. Day 95 was calling.

We decided to hike along the Munden’s ridge top, one of our favourite scenic excursions, a place full of happy memories from the days when our dog, Jasper, was still with us.

A few minutes into the walk we watched in fascination at a fairy tern with a fish in its beak, attempting to fly up the valley, being pummelled by the wind. The poor bird was flapping away but incredibly it was being blown backwards by the powerful gusts. It did well to hang on to the fish!


Lenticular cloud over St Helena Island

17:29 – soon after reaching the end of the ridge, the view of the cloud formation looking across to Half Tree Hollow and Ladder Hill. The flag pole at the top of Ladder Hill is visible.
Lenticular cloud over St Helena Island.

The sea birds were being tossed around in the high winds as they flew inland. This red billed tropic bird (trophy bird) was managing better than many of the smaller birds.
Clouds over St Helena Island.

18:03 – The bright colours of day begin their transition to a sunset orange.
Clouds over St Helena Island.


Scribbling The Lenticular Effect

As we were pushed along the pathway ourselves, Sharon joked, at least we won’t get hit by any falling trees being where we were.

Off to our left, rising up above Half Tree Hollow a strange cloud formation was beginning to appear; like rapid pencil scribbles, a swirly shaped thing. It stood out against a clear blue sky. Weirdly, while the lower level clouds were moving swiftly along in the wind, the scribbled cotton ball was just sitting there.

By the time we reached the end of the mile-long ridge, overlooking James Bay, the cloud had stretched upwards into a taller column, seemingly hovering over Half Tree Hollow despite the strong winds.


Introducing The Cumuloticular (Lenticular Cloud)

As the daylight softened and transformed into a gorgeous Atlantic sunset we got caught up in the natural spectacle above us, taking picture after picture, unable to tear ourselves away.


18:07 – Light now changing rapidly as we frame one of the many cactus bushes that grow all along the top of Mundens Hill.
Clouds over St Helena Island.

Not exactly flattering (sorry Sharon) but a great example of how windy it was at the top of Mundens Hill, right near the cliff top.
Clouds over St Helena Island.

Down below us in James Bay, the MV Helena, St Helena’s new cargo ship on her first ever visit to the island.
Clouds over St Helena Island.

18:12 – Time to head home as it gets dark. A mile long hike ahead of us back to the car parked on Field Road.
Clouds over St Helena Island.

Lenticular cloud over St Helena Island

18:16 – Making our way back up Mundens Hill, looking back at the beautiful Atlantic sunset.
Clouds over St Helena Island.

18:21 – Half way along the Mundens ridge, looking back, the colours now turning pink after the sun has dipped out of sight.
Clouds over St Helena Island.


Finally, with darkness falling we hustled back up the ridge, street lamps already on in Jamestown below us on one side, and Rupert’s Valley on the other.

Driving home in near darkness we could still just make out the shape of the cloud and had to stop for one last photo from Button Up Corner, with the backdrop of High Knoll Fort. An ISO 4000 and aperture f2.8 setting was needed on the camera, it was that dark.

I’ve said it many times already – shooting this Project has done wonders for our photography in so many ways. This photo-a-day quest can occasionally be a pain but more times than not it’s full of these wonderful surprises.


18:56 – The cloud still lingering, photographed High Knoll Fort from Button Up Corner using high ISO and aperture.
Clouds over St Helena Island.


So what was that mysterious cloud? I’ve had a quick scoot online but can’t nail it down exactly. It seems to be a cross between a lenticular cloud and a cumulonimbus cloud. Someone will tell me soon enough, but for now I’ll name it a, Cumuloticular!


Update: for more great pictures of the lenticular effect on clouds, click here.


Hiking beneath a spectacular lenticular cloud, right on sunset.


By |2018-10-29T00:52:05+00:00April 6th, 2017|Awesome Nature, St Helena|17 Comments


  1. Rosemary Stewart April 10, 2017 at 4:55 pm - Reply

    Suggest you join the Cloud Appreciation Society based in UK but members all over the world. They would love someone from St Helena. https://cloudappreciationsociety.org. I also recommend http://www.atoptics.co.uk

  2. Rick and Sally Stucker April 7, 2017 at 9:57 pm - Reply

    Beautiful photos of an incredible cloud. As per previous comments, I could agree with wave or lenticular as a description. The wave clouds we see above the front range in Colorado are typically very smooth. The cloud above St. Helena is much more ragged, or rugose. Very unique and lovely.

    • Saints April 8, 2017 at 9:30 am - Reply

      We were researching clouds preparing this post and absolutely fascinating there’s so much to learn about what swirls around above us. Will be paying more attention now for sure. Thanks for the comment guys, always great to hear from you. Cheers 🙂

  3. Christopher Daniel April 6, 2017 at 7:08 pm - Reply

    Very atmospheric pictures. I could almost feel the wind. As Lone Pine Kurt said, these are clouds generated by hilly terrain, sometimes called wave clouds, and while airliners avoid them, glider pilots seek them out to benefit from the rapidly rising air on the windward side. I live in hilly north Wales, UK, and we see clouds like this a few times a year, usually individual ‘flying saucer’ shapes, not the multi-layer one you we privileged to see.

    • Saints April 7, 2017 at 2:02 am - Reply

      That’s fascinating about the glider pilots, not sure I’d want to get too close! We seem to be getting more weird and wonderful weather lately. Last year, October, we had a huge thunder storm, first in 35 years. Thanks for the comment Christopher 🙂

  4. Lone Pine Kurt April 6, 2017 at 1:15 pm - Reply

    Darren, It is a classic lenticular caused by the wave of air forced up by the terrain of St Helena. The air falls back down on the lee side of the terrain. The visible cloud is caused by the temperature being the same or colder than the dew point of the air being forced up. It is a cloud that aviators avoid due to the extreme turbulence associated with it. It is very dynamic. Lone Pine Kurt in the Eastern Sierra where we get these clouds all the time.

    • Saints April 6, 2017 at 2:16 pm - Reply

      Thanks Lone Pine Kurt, knew someone would be able to confirm that for us. I was wondering about the turbulence effect too, so that’s good to know. Beautiful phenomena to photograph all the same. Cheers 🙂

  5. karenza777 April 6, 2017 at 10:43 am - Reply

    Spectacular pics – love that walk across Munden’s ridge and down to the batteries – did it on Sunday and ended at Anne’s!

    • Saints April 6, 2017 at 2:11 pm - Reply

      Always tempting to do but then have to walk back up Side Path to get the car! Might have to park in town next time and get the hill climb out of the way first 🙂 It’s a great walk, can spend ages up there watching the town and the sea birds. Cheers Karenza 🙂

  6. Eric Constantine April 6, 2017 at 10:04 am - Reply

    Great pictures as usual, didn’t realise this was positioned above us yesterday.

    • Saints April 6, 2017 at 2:10 pm - Reply

      Yes, I think we got lucky and were in the perfect spot to observe this Eric. I think even from Alarm Forest area we would not have got the same effect. Thanks for the comment 🙂

  7. Jean April 6, 2017 at 8:24 am - Reply

    Brilliant pics! Jack Hobson comes to mind when identifying the different clouds! Take care. xx

    • Saints April 6, 2017 at 2:08 pm - Reply

      That Jack Hobson knows a lot of stuff 🙂 Thanks Jean.

  8. Kenickz April 6, 2017 at 8:02 am - Reply

    Great photos guys, love the foreground vs the background details. Ace! Great pic of Sharon doing her thing. 🙂

    • Saints April 6, 2017 at 8:11 am - Reply

      Cheers Kenickie, just like DoE classes eh 🙂 I’m getting Sharon a hair band for Christmas.

  9. Andrea April 6, 2017 at 7:35 am - Reply

    WOW! These are great photos guys. Wind in your hair there Sharon 😉 x

    • Saints April 6, 2017 at 8:09 am - Reply

      I don’t have that problem Andrea – ’cause I always wear my cap 😀

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