Clips of eerie cloud in Aceh went viral

The COVID-19 pandemic has made us all go into high-alert mode. So when short clips of an eerie cloud formation in Aceh were circulated on social media on Monday, 10th August 2020, netizens were more than a little spooked out.

The massive cloud, which looked like a huge tidal wave in the sky, got everyone thinking of the worst possible scenario – possibly because it triggered memories of the devastating 2004 tsunami that occurred in Aceh and surrounding areas of Southeast Asia.

The “tsunami cloud” that sent a wave of panic

Tsunami clouds in Aceh - View 1
Image adapted from: @aceh

Clips of what netizens referred to as a “tsunami cloud” appeared in the morning (Western Indonesia time), sending residents of West Aceh and Nagan Raya into a state of panic. The view was indeed unsettling – it’s hard not to compare the sky to a scene from a dystopian movie. 

Tsunami clouds in Aceh - View 2
Image adapted from: @kanalacehcom

The social media frenzy was soon addressed by Zakaria, an official from the Indonesian Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysical Agency (BMKG). As reported by Kanal Aceh, he said that the wave-shaped cloud is called an arcus cloud, which falls under the cumulonimbus category. The arcus cloud is popularly referred to as a “tsunami cloud” because of its shape. 

Zakaria further explained that this type of cloud hangs low, and may cause strong winds and heavy rain with a chance of thunder, lightning, or even hail. Since it often emerges in a relatively small area, the cloud formation is rarely picked up by satellite imaging. 

There’s no need to worry, but do take precautions

Tsunami clouds in Aceh - View 3
Video adapted from: @aceh

While Zakaria assured residents – and netizens – that such a cloud is no cause for concern, he did say that it’s important to look for shelter and avoid going out to sea if it appears in the sky. The strong winds paired with heavy rain and lightning could be dangerous for those in open waters and areas.

We’re lucky there was an expert on hand to clarify the spooky phenomenon. 2020 has definitely turned us all into worrywarts, but at least this cloud is simply a rare sight that passed quickly and without incident, besides plenty of social media chatter.

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Cover image adapted from: @kanalacehcom and @aceh

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