Last week, the internet reported that a strange worm-like cloud was spotted by residents over Lazy Mountain. You don’t have to be an expert on clouds to realize this isn’t your everyday weather phenomenon. Thankfully, we’ve got you covered with some explanations for what’s going on here, according to officials.
Have you ever seen a cloud quite like this? The photos of the bizarre cloud, posted to Facebook by Christine Spinelli, sparked a debate online as people questioned whether it could be a meteor, a crashed UFO or satellite, an eruption, and even a Russian weapon connected to the conflict in Ukraine.
The cloud garnered so much attention that Alaska State Troopers and the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center began investigating a possible plane crash.
However, the mystery was solved when troopers were able to identify it as the result of a commercial plane.
Alaska’s Department of Public Safety Advisory investigated the Lazy Mountain photos and video that were reported to Troopers and have also been circulating across social media Thursday last week.
Alaska’s Department of Public Safety Advisory released a statement that explained that further investigation revealed that a large commercial jet was flying in that area around the time that the photos and video were taken. The aircraft was contacted and reported normal flight operations on its way to JFK airport in New York
“When something enters the atmosphere as fast as this object did it creates friction with air molecules and heats up quickly, forming what some people have described as plasma,” said the statement from Alaska’s Department of Public Safety Advisory.
“The Alaska State Troopers and our partners at the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center investigated the Lazy Mountain photos and video that were reported to Troopers and have also been circulating across social media this morning,” they continued.
According to Alaska’s Department of Public Safety Advisory, they have not received any reports of overdue aircraft or Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT) activations. This means that they do not believe there to be a plane crash. A rescue team flew a helicopter mission around the Lazy Mountain area that day, and they did not find any signs of a crashed plane.
“There have been no reports of overdue aircraft or ELT activations indicating an aircraft crash. A rescue team on a helicopter flew a mission around the Lazy Mountain area this morning and located nothing suspicious and there were no signs of crashed aircraft,” sounds the statement by Alaska’s Department of Public Safety Advisory.
“Further investigation revealed that a large commercial jet was flying in that area around the time that the photos and video were taken. The aircraft was contacted and reported normal flight operations on its way to JFK airport in New York,” said the statement. “Troopers believe that the photos and videos showed a contrail from the commercial jet combined with the rising sun which together caused the unique atmospheric sight. We greatly appreciate the numerous Alaskans that reported the suspicious sight this morning to law enforcement.”
The worm cloud was likely caused by a cold air inversion. The phenomenon occurs when cold air is trapped below warm air, creating layers and then bending the light. In this case, it happened to create an impressive optical illusion.
As for the contrails connected to what appears to be the worm, Alaska’s Department of Public Safety Advisory says they believe that the photos and videos showed a contrail from the commercial jet combined with the rising sun which together caused the unique atmospheric sight.
A 747 departing Anchorage for New York at 7:10 this morning caused an optical illusion that had many Alaskans worried.
Andrew Mc, a pilot who saw photos of the plane posted to Facebook, immediately recognized what was happening and clarified that the plane was not crashing.
“It’s just an illusion,” he said. “The plane was headed east … everything is fine.”
Andrew Mc explained that a dense vapor trail can make it look like a plane is dropping from the sky when in fact it is not.
What is contrail?
A contrail is a line left behind a jet plane in the sky. These lines can be seen for several minutes to several hours, depending on the weather conditions.
Contrails are made up of water vapor and tiny pieces of ice that have condensed from the moisture in a jet engine’s exhaust. They look like white lines, but they can also appear gray or transparent.
Contrails are created in the same way you see your breath on a cold day. As an airplane moves through the sky, it compresses the air and raises its temperature, causing it to condense into tiny droplets of water and ice. As the plane moves forward, these droplets freeze into crystal form and leave a trail behind them.
The appearance and duration of contrails depend on how humid it is at cruising altitude and how much water is available to form ice crystals. If there is not enough water available when the exhaust leaves the airplane, no line forms. If there is just enough water to make a line, it may disappear almost immediately after being created.
If there are more clouds than usual following airplanes’ paths across the sky, there’s probably extra moisture available in higher altitudes.
The next time you’re on a plane, take a look out the window and you may see some very interesting things.
It turns out that the contrails (the white lines left in the sky by passing planes) have a lot to do with the weather.
Boeing 747 pilot Christiaan van Heijst told Airlineratings.com that “the size of contrails normally depends on the humidity of the ambient air and the pressure difference over the wings.”
This means that if there’s a lot of moisture in the air, you’ll see much larger contrails than when there’s less moisture. If a plane is carrying more cargo or passengers than usual, its wings will exert more pressure, which also results in larger contrails.
And finally, if an airplane engine is burning more fuel than normal, you’ll see more water vapor coming out of it—which means larger contrails!
Alaska State Troopers have released a statement that explains the mysterious light show seen throughout Alaska on Tuesday night. Turns out, it was just plain old contrails!
Of course, many people aren’t buying the explanation from Alaska State Troopers. Many are quick to point out that many of the trails in the sky were far too close together, and others were moving in patterns that weren’t quite right for jet traffic.
Many other Alaskans are skeptical as well, and some even believe that they might have seen UFOs.
Skeptics suggest that the lights could be an alien craft or even secret military testing. One man quipped that “Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy could have thought up a better story.”
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