Orange bubble clouds turn Michigan sky into a lava lamp (video)

Nature put on a psychedelic show in Michigan this week, filling the sky with tangerine-colored bubble-shaped clouds that look like the inside of a lava lamp.

You can see the spectacle for yourself in the video above, captured by part-time Wendy’s employee and full-time dad Jason Asselin.

Asselin said he shot the video near his home in the state’s Upper Peninsula around 8 p.m. Monday. It was pretty close to sunset, which likely accounts for the spectacular orange color of the sky.

In a caption to the video, Asselin describes the clouds as looking like “bubble cups” and writes, “It was the craziest thing I have ever witnessed over my head. I almost expected to see a tornado or something!”


The clouds, known as mammatus clouds, do not herald tornadoes, but they can be an indicator that a thunderstorm is on the way, said Graeme Stephens, director of the Center for Climate Sciences at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Canada-Flintridge.

Mammatus clouds are considered to be upside-down clouds, because they form when air sinks, while most clouds are formed when air rises.

They are very rare, and only occur when the difference between the air above the cloud and the air below the cloud creates a specific type of turbulence that shapes the falling particles into globular forms, said Stephens.

Asselin said he was at work when the clouds started to form. He noticed customers and employees standing outside, holding their cellphones to the sky, and he came outside to see what was going on.


“I could not stop staring at the clouds,” he said. “It was just amazing.”

He raced home to get his video camera because he thought if he just took a picture of what he was seeing, no one would believe it was real.