Weird Cloud or Did Someone Make That?

smoke ring
A Likely Ring of Smoke Beyond the Trees. Cause: Unknown.
smoke ring
A Likely Ring of Smoke Beyond the Trees. Cause: Unknown.

Something odd but interesting in the sky appeared on August 23, 2017 near Atmore, Alabama. Taylor Bowen and Jacqueline Hadley spotted it and shared photos. That was a day with showers and thunderstorms, and a lot of lightning. In their photos, you can clearly see a ring of something that looks like condensation, or a cloud, above the treeline, but you can’t see what the source of the ring is.

One picture shows what seems to be a funnel cloud above the ring but it’s hard to tell if it was just a cloud fragment or if it was a funnel; whether it was above the ring or in the distance behind it.

I wasn’t there so I can’t be positive what caused the ring but I highly suspect it was either something on the ground that may have exploded, possibly after being struck by lightning, or it could have been as simple as somebody doing a science experiment with a grill! These sorts of pictures are not unusual for transformers that get overloaded and explode so that is another possibility.

I did a simple demonstration at Discovery Cube Science Museum, in Orange County, California, to show how easy it is to make a smoke ring. It just takes a round object with an opening, and a source of smoke or vapor. Give it a gentle and even push from the inside and the smoke or vapor will move outward as a ring.

Not everything you see in the sky is caused by weather!

Alan Sealls

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