Those strange and beautiful clouds you spotted last night, there’s a name for them, and it turns out they’re pretty rare

Were you lucky enough to see the eerie cloud formations?

Mammatus clouds
(Image credit: Rainer Binder/ullstein bild via Getty Images)

Most of the country has been hit by wind, rain and hail this week, but it’s not all bad as the storm-like conditions created a beautifully rare sight during the evening last night.

Anyone who may have braved the wintery weather conditions for a walk may have been rewarded with huge low-lying bulb-shaped clouds that made for a seriously wonderful sight.

Mammatus clouds over the Peak District

(Image credit: Lydia Swinscoe)

The bulge-like clouds, known as Mammatus, are some of the most unusual and distinctive cloud formations according to the Met Office. Formed due to stormy weather conditions including hail, heavy rain and lightning, Mammatus clouds almost appear like an upside-down cloud with pouches forming underneath rather than on top.

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The incredible appearance of these clouds is made more beautiful as the sun lowers in the sky projecting light up into the pouches. People took to Instagram across the country to share their dreamlike images to the social media platform as the spectacular clouds were spotted over parts of the Peak District and West Sussex. 

Mammatus clouds over the Peak District

(Image credit: Lydia Swinscoe)

Residents of Berlin, Germany were also treated to a beautiful display with Mammatus clouds providing photo opportunities across the city.

Mammatus comes from the Latin, mamma, meaning udder or breast. The amazing effect is an example of clouds in sinking air and was first described in 1894. These clouds can extend for hundreds of miles and according to the BBC, “usually indicate that the worst weather has passed.” 

A rare occurrence, Mammatus is one of the most unusual and distinct cloud formations you can see, lets hope we can all catch them again soon.

Lydia Swinscoe
Travel writer & editor

Lydia is a travel writer and editor, based mostly in London. Her work has been published in print and online for the likes of Harper's Bazaar UK, ELLE UK, Marie Claire US, Condé Nast Traveller Middle East, Town&Country, BBC Good Food, Oh magazine, MailOnline, and woman&home.