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Feb 20, 2018

A spiral cloud appears just off the southern California coast in this image seen by the Suomi NPP satellite's VIIRS instrument on February 1, 2018. While one might mistake this cloud for a small hurricane, it is actually just a harmless cloud formation known as a von Kármán vortex. Named after Theodore von Kármán, a co-founder of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, these stratocumulus clouds form when air moving over a relatively flat surface gets diverted by topographic features, such as an island or a mountaintop. In this image, the ...

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