April 27, 2022

A Mysterious Cloud Circle Appears Near Victoria and the San Juans

A mysterious cloud circle appeared over the skies near Victoria and San Juan Island last evening around 6:45 PM (see a photo taken by Robert Beck, MD).

I received several emails with pictures, and the Twittersphere is alive with more pictures and speculations.

People are concerned, worried, amazed, and curious.   UFO?  Chemtrails?  Strange natural cloud?  The atmospheric version of crop circles?

So as a public service, let us try to solve this mystery!

Let's start by looking at a high-resolution visible satellite image at the time! (see below)

Look closely and you will see some thin high clouds just north of the San Juans...and also near Port Townsend.  These are thin cirrostratus clouds, located between 25,000 and 30,000 ft.

Important clues.  And look closely to the northwest of Sequim....there are faint lines.  These are contrails produced by aircraft.

Contrails result from the moisture and particles ejected from jet aircraft engines, with the moisture (water vapor) subsequently condensing in the cool, upper atmosphere.   Contrails are particularly evident when the atmosphere aloft is near saturation...something indicated by the cirrostratus clouds.

Normally contrails are straight lines. 

But let's go one step further and look at the observations of the balloon-launched weather observations at Quillayute on the Washington coast at about the same time (see below).  The Y-axis is height in pressure (hPa), the X-axis is temperature, the red line indicates the observed temperature and the blue-dashed line is dew point.  When the temperature and dew point are close together the air is near or at saturation (clouds are possible).   

Note there is an area in the upper troposphere (400 to 300 hPa pressure, about  25,000 ft above the surface) that is near saturation (temperature and dew point are nearly the same).   That is the altitude where cirrostratus clouds and contrails would occur.   Nice confirmation.

 Is it plausible that an aircraft did a tight circle around 25,000 ft above the surface?

Or a trick by a meteorological Professor Moriarity?

Let's look more closely at a photo taken by Beth Shirk (see below). 

Eureka!  You can see a contrail enter the circle and one exiting (both on the left sides)

This is clearly an aircraft contrail.    Possibly a military jet.  Probably too tight a circle for a commercial plane.  Not a UFO.  Certainly not a chemtrail (which don't exist by the way).

Let me end with a longer-distance view by John Polstra.   An unusual sight and a bit disturbing.

Reminder:    The Northwest Weather Workshop On May  7

If you are interested, check out the meeting website, which includes the latest agenda:


This year, the meeting will include several talks on the June 2021 heatwave and a session on wildfire meteorology.  Plus, more general presentations on local meteorology, regional climate, and weather technology.

You must register on the above website to attend:  the zoom link for the meeting will be emailed to you the week before the meeting.  The meeting is free.


  1. Are the chemtrails more likely to be linear than circular?

    1. He just said "Certainly not a chemtrail (which don't exist by the way)."

    2. I suppose they do exist if you consider water vapor to be a chemical. That's what jet contrails consist of, by and large.

  2. I was a military pilot. This circle was fairly close to Whidbey Island Naval Air Station. Many of the aircraft stationed there are carrier based jets and the pilots can be quite free form in their flying. Not only is it possible, but is probable that this was done by a Naval Aviator. I would have, if I could have!

  3. I like the idea of aliens better.

  4. I heard that chemtrails are made out dihydrogen monoxide vapor - a ubiquitous industrial solvent!

  5. Normally chemtrails are in straight lines, but perhaps they thought the San Juans needed an extra dose. Dihydrogen monoxide easily crosses the blood-brain barrier. Thought control?


Please make sure your comments are civil. Name calling and personal attacks are not appropriate.

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