Des Moines, Iowa Looking out the 11th floor window of her law office, Jane Wiggins did a double take and grabbed her camera. The dark, undulating clouds hovering outside were unlike anything she’d seen before.
“It looked like Armageddon,” said Wiggins, a paralegal and amateur photographer in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. “The shadows of the clouds, the lights and the darks, and the greenish-yellow backdrop. They seemed to change.”
They dissipated within 15 minutes, but the photo Wiggins captured in June 2006 intrigued — and stumped — a group of dedicated weather watchers who now are pushing weather authorities to create a new cloud category, something that hasn’t been done since 1951.
Breaking into the cloud family would require surviving layers of skeptical international review. Still, Gavin Pretor-Pinney and his England-based Cloud Appreciation Society are determined to establish a new variety. They’ve given Wiggins’ photo and similar pictures taken in different parts of the world to experts in England, and are discussing the subject fervently online.
“They (the clouds) were the first ones that I noted of this type and I was unsure which category to put them under,” said Pretor-Pinney, author of “The Cloudspotter’s Guide.” “When we put pictures up online we list the category, and I wasn’t sure how to categorize it.”