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Rare 'river of the sky' clouds hover over Atlanta

ATLANTA -- Rare clouds nicknamed "River of the Sky" greeted morning commuters in Atlanta Tuesday. The scientific name is Undulatus Asperatus. 

WOW! See these beautiful photos of the cloud formations

11Alive Meteorologist Chesley McNeil said the clouds are very rare in the southeast, but more common in the midwest.  He also says there's debate over what causes the phenomenon. Scientists agree it's a meeting of two fronts, but are split on whether it's caused by a cold/warm front or a dry/moist front. The Royal Meteorological Society is documenting their appearance to see if they deserve a separate cloud classification. If that happens, it would be the first cloud named since 1951.

Atlanta Weather | Return Of The Polar Vortex???

Atlanta Weather | Return Of The Polar Vortex???

Cold air returning to the United States today and tomorrow is causing the word “Polar Vortex” to be tossed around again. Arctic air is on the way, but the bitter cold air will not make as deep into the south as it did in early January. The bitter cold will remain over the northern plains as temperatures in places like North and South Dakota will be 30 and 40 degrees below zero!
It will get colder here in North GA.  Temperatures will only reach the 40s for highs on Wednesday, then dip into 20s. So the coldest air we will feel this week will be over us on Thursday morning. We will gradually warm up as we get into the weekend.

The polar vortex, is not a storm but a "planetary-scale mid- to high-latitude circumpolar cyclonic circulation, extending from the middle troposphere to the stratosphere," according to a portion of the American Meteorological Society's recently updated definition.

Atlanta Weather | Return Of The Polar Vortex???

Atlanta Weather | Return Of The Polar Vortex???

Cold air returning to the United States today and tomorrow is causing the word “Polar Vortex” to be tossed around again. Arctic air is on the way, but the bitter cold air will not make as deep into the south as it did in early January. The bitter cold will remain over the northern plains as temperatures in places like North and South Dakota will be 30 and 40 degrees below zero!
It will get colder here in North GA.  Temperatures will only reach the 40s for highs on Wednesday, then dip into 20s. So the coldest air we will feel this week will be over us on Thursday morning. We will gradually warm up as we get into the weekend.

The polar vortex, is not a storm but a "planetary-scale mid- to high-latitude circumpolar cyclonic circulation, extending from the middle troposphere to the stratosphere," according to a portion of the American Meteorological Society's recently updated definition.

Tuesday Atlanta Weather Outlook

We will have more clouds to start the day Tuesday, then they will break up to give us more sunshine in the afternoon.  Clouds will increase again late Tuesday.  There is a slight chance of some light showers as we move into Wednesday morning.  There is also a slight chance for a few flurries in the mountains.  The moisture content with this system is very limited.

The cold front coming in Wednesday has some really cold air back behind it.  We will only move into the upper 40s Wednesday afternoon.  The clouds will clear out and it will be breezy, too.  Temperatures will drop to the mid 20s by Thursday morning.  We will have plenty of sunshine Thursday with highs struggling to get back up to 50 degrees.

We will warm up for the end of the week into the 50s Saturday and eventually the 60s on Sunday.

International Space Station Visible over Atlanta Tonight

The International Space Station will be visible over the evening skies of Atlanta and north Georgia tonight.  The ISS will appear about 10 degrees above the horizon in the northwest sky at 7:42pm.  It will move across the sky peaking at 71 degrees.  It will disappear about 46 degrees above the horizon in the ESE sky.  The entire flyover will last about 4 minutes.

Here's what to expect.  As you look toward the NW at 7:42, you will see a bright light that moves across the sky.  It will get higher in the sky as it progresses.  At the end of the 4 minutes, you will see that it just disappears into the sky.

We do expect a few clouds to start to move in during the evening hours.  We don't think that they will be thick enough to totally block out the ISS flyover viewing.  

There are numerous opportunities to see the ISS flyovers.  Tonight's is better viewing because it will be higher up in the sky.

Atlanta Weather | Strange Space Lights

Atlanta Weather | Strange Space Lights

I thought this was pretty cool enough to share with you! Check this out. A Japanese astronaut created a microgravity, multicolored light show on the International Space Station in the name of art.

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Kiochi Wakata has been using a specialized device that can to create swirly light art in weightlessness on the orbiting outpost. Known as a "spiral top," the instrument is outfitted with LED lights so that when spun, the top will create light trails that can be captured in photos (see below).

The end result of those spins in microgravity is an amazing light portrait that looks otherworldly. Wakata posted a few photos on Twitter earlier in January 2014 that show blue, green, yellow and red spirals shooting through a module on the space station.

Monday Atlanta Weather Outlook

Two cold fronts move through our area this week.  The first one is on Monday that will drop our temperatures by only about 5 degrees.  The second front has much colder air behind it.  It comes in Wednesday.

Monday will be another nice day with some slightly cooler air in place.  We will top of at 64 in the afternoon with a good bit of sunshine occasionally mixing in with some clouds.