National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration NOAA Environmental Visualization Laboratory NOAA View
NOAA
Bookmark and Share
Von Kármán Vortex off the southern California coast
Related                                   View Slideshow
Clear skies reveal the snow-covered European Alps
Mayon Volcano Erupts in the Philippines
Clear skies over the Saint Lawrence Seaway
Winter storm brings snow, whiteout conditions to the central U.S.
Feb 05, 2018
Von Kármán Vortex off the southern California coast

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 vortex formed east of San Clemente Island, about 70 miles off the coast of San Diego. When the prevailing wind was forced to move around the elevated surface of the island, the winds changed direction, causing the clouds to rotate into a spiral shape.

This image was created by combining three of the high resolution thermal and visible channels from the Suomi NPP satellite's VIIRS sensor (SVI 4,2,1). The combination of these channels enhances the contrast between clouds, water, and land surfaces, with the ocean appearing black in this imagery.

 
Referral:NOAA National Weather Service
Terms of Use:Please credit NOAA
Keywords:California, San Clemente Island, von Karman vortex, NPP, VIIRS, 2018.02.01
 

USA.gov logo
NOAA logo
Website Owner: NOAA Environmental Visualization Lab Contact Us