For Cinco de Mayo, take a peek south of the border at this beautiful von Karman vortex street trailing behind Guadalupe Islands. The sharply-peaking volcanic island pokes 1.3 kilometers above the waves, prodding the wind to produces turbulence in the cloud deck.

Vortices Trailing Guadalupe

The volcano acts as a rock in a stream, blocking wind and inducing rotational eddies downstream. This turbulence is visible as vortices (or a vortex street) in the even cloud layer.


Vortices Trailing Guadalupe

The layer of marine stratocumulus clouds are broken up by rotating swirls produced by turbulence around the volcano peak. Further downwind, the vortices weaken, reducing the cloud-clearing effects. Farther downwind, the clouds form neat lines of gravity waves (very different than gravitational waves!)

Image credit: NASA/Earth Observatory. Check out the write-up on Earth Observatory for a 3D version to see the vertical displacement.