Clouded in Mystery

IFM Fun-Fact Friday: Micro-climate oddities of the Tetons

Published online: Oct 28, 2016 Articles, East Idaho Outdoors, Photography, Videos Steve Smede
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Here's something to “peak” your interest...

Have you ever looked up at a mountain and noticed clouds that seem to form out of thin air? You'll find few better examples of this phenomenon than the Tetons.

After capturing a telling timelapse video of the Grand Teton this fall, we decided to quench our curiosity with a quick call to Local News 8 meteorologist Chris Bruin.

When air is forced up against mountain peaks, the result is called an “orographic lift” that produces condensation and sometimes precipitation, Bruin said.

“What you might also see is a lenticular cloud formation,” he added. “It's pretty rare, and sometimes looks like a flying saucer around the peak.”

Bonus trivia: When the air coming out of the southwest rises up and ramps into the mountain slopes, it helps kick back moisture to the Idaho side, producing the fertile farm grounds that Teton Valley is known for (plus some plentiful precip for the snowbunnies at Grand Targhee). On the Wyoming side, the air slides down and warms, creating a drier, more arid climate.

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