Horseshoe Vortex Cloud

Horseshoe vortex cloud  NICK COULBECK
Horseshoe vortex cloud Credit: NICK COULBECK

A horseshoe vortex cloud is very fleeting and quite a rare phenomenon. It starts out as a vortex caused by an invisible rising column of air warm known as a thermal. This subsequently encounters crosswinds aloft and curls over in a spin.

When conditions are just right, cloud droplets condense as temperatures fall within the low pressure along the centre of the vortex. The thermal continues to push upwards from below, lifting the twisting roll of cloud and distorting it into a curve that resembles an inverted horseshoe.