thumbnail A peak in the clouds
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A peak in the clouds © Delrious/Shutterstock
World Meteorological Day brings us to Washington"s Mount Rainier, a huge stratovolcano with a habit of creating its own weather systems. Jutting out about 2 miles above the surrounding landscape, its high altitude interrupts the flow of air that comes in off the Pacific Ocean, creating dramatic weather such as the saucer-shaped clouds on our homepage. They"re called lenticular clouds, and because of their distinctive appearance, they"ve been suggested as an explanation for some UFO sightings. Thanks to the science of meteorology, we know they"re a normal weather phenomenon, commonly occurring on the downwind side of obstructions such as mountains, buildings, or other tall structures.