Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Squiggles in the sky February 3, 2022

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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Squiggles in the morning sky. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo January 2022)

SEVERAL WEEKS AGO, on a brutally cold Minnesota winter morning when tires on roadways sound like boots crunching glass, when breathing in outdoor air almost hurts, when brilliant sunshine deceives, I noticed a strange sight in the sky. An endless skinny squiggle.

Alarmed, I wondered at the contrail resembling the attempts of a preschooler free-styling the letter “S.” Was this thin white line revealing an out-of-control aircraft about to crash? It’s interesting where the mind wanders when knowledge lacks. I will be the first to admit I don’t understand much about airplanes. I still don’t understand the physics of flight, not that I’ve even tried to educate myself. It simply does not interest me.

An edited version of the original photo to better show the squiggles. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo January 2022)

With questions racing through my mind, I grabbed my camera to document the scene through my front picture window. Yes, utility wires and dirty glass distracted, but I held no desire to step into the frigid cold to take photos.

Upon discussing the skinny squiggles with Randy many hours later, he suggested the cold, stillness and other “just right” atmospheric weather conditions caused those skinny contrail squiggles. Right? Wrong? What do you think (or know)? I’m listening.

© Copyright 2022 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


14 Responses to “Squiggles in the sky”

  1. beth Says:

    Interesting…I have no idea

  2. BradG Says:

    Being retired from the National Weather Service I should know the answer to this. First time I have ever seen this. Usually contrails just move along with the prevailing winds at that height in the atmosphere. I can only guess that right at that level in the atmosphere there was extreme turbulence moving the air wildly around. I wouldn’t want to be flying through it! I am curious to see other comments to maybe prove me wrong.

  3. Whatever they are they are neat looking!

  4. Jackie Hemmer Says:

    So interesting, but I have no idea?

  5. Contrails are made up of mostly water. I think Brad is right. Turbulence, water vapor, freezing temps, made those squiggles.

  6. jhc1218 Says:

    You piqued my interest with this post. Brad is on the right path. These appear to be sinusoidal thin contrails.

  7. They sure are interesting! I enjoyed reading the other commenters opinions.

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