“Wheel” In The Sky Over Louisiana
By James Donahue
Odd cloud formations come along every once
in a while that excite people on the ground who happen to look upward and see them. But the wheel that appeared in the heavens
over Raceland, Louisiana the weekend of December 13-14, 2008, caused switchboards at area police, television and newspaper
offices to light up.
“It was the weirdest thing I’ve
ever seen,” Raceland resident Sandra Leder told the local newspaper. She also furnished the photograph that appears
with this story.
The formation looks like something punched
a giant hole in a layer of overhanging clouds. And a local meteorologist, Shawn O’Neill, of the National Weather Service
in Slidell, said that may be exactly what it was. He called it a rare phenomenon known as a “hole-punch cloud.”
O’Neill said a cloud formation like
that can be caused when an aircraft intersects with altocumulus or cirrocumulus clouds. He said an aircraft dropping through
or climbing through ice crystals in a super-cooled liquid cloud of water droplets could cause a hole to appear in the sky.
He said the jet stream also could cause such
a formation by causing small-scale movements in the atmosphere.
Leder said she was skeptical about O’Neill’s
explanation. “It completely circled my house and then disappeared. It was too big, too round and too low to be caused
by a jet,” she said.