Earth from space: Mysterious, slow-spinning cloud ‘cyclone’ hugs the Iberian coast

quick facts

Where is it? The west coast of the Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal).

What’s in the photo? A spiraling cloud front hugging the coastline.

What took the photo? NASA’s Terra satellite.

When was it taken? July 16, 2017.

This striking photo shows an unusual cloud spiral nestled perfectly along the west coast of the Iberian Peninsula in 2017. 

The spiral consists of moist, cloudy air from the sea that’s been swirled together with clear, dry air from the land by a phenomenon known as cyclonic rotation — the same mechanism that is responsible for generating tropical storms such as hurricanes, typhoons and cyclones, according to NASA’s Earth Observatory

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