Folks near and in Seattle were treated with a rare type of cloud formation early this morning, one that looked stunning with a backdrop of starlight. Images and details about the clouds were recently published by the National Weather Service, which says the clouds were visible over Lake Washington at the Service’s Seattle location earlier today.
Noctilucent clouds is a fancy term for “night clouds,” which are exactly what they sound like: clouds that are visible when the sky is still mostly dark. The clouds are composed of ice crystals located in the Earth’s upper atmosphere, where they become visible during what is known as “astronomical twilight.”
According to local news agency KGW8, the noctilucent clouds became visible between 3AM and 4AM local time, when they appeared to be wispy, white, and bright. Due to how thin they are, the clouds — which are the highest in the atmosphere — aren’t visible once the sun is up.
These clouds are primarily spotted at high latitudes during the summertime; they’ve appeared in Washington in the past, though usually not this close to Seattle, instead appearing farther north. Even better, this isn’t the only time this year that night clouds have appeared in the region.
About a week ago, the same type of clouds appeared in the early morning hours over the Puget Sound near Seattle. It has been a rare double treat this month for those in the region, and it’s reasonable to hope that they may appear again before the summer is over.