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September 7, 2022

Interesting cloud formation at Mount Rainier's summit sparks interest in its geologic past and preparedness for future eruptions.

On the morning of September 7, 2022, people in the greater Seattle metro area saw what appeared to be "venting" near the summit of Mount Rainier, a video of which was shared on social media. The observation however, was of a cloud formation and not venting. Mount Rainier remains at normal, background level of activity.

The USGS Cascades Volcano Observatory coordinated with colleagues at the National Park Service and experts at Mount Rainier National Park to discern that the observation was of a lenticular cloud, a very interesting cloud formation. Lenticular clouds often form when moist air is pushed up and over the top of a mountain, forming a disc-shaped cloud. The National Park Service webcam views of Mount Rainier showed the flow of the cloud over the top. In this case, it was likely related to a passing weather front.

Data from the seismic network, jointly operated by the USGS Cascades Volcano Observatory and the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network, did not show any unusual activity at Mount Rainier. By coincidence, there was a CVO field team at Mount Rainier to install a new volcano monitoring station and conduct maintenance at existing stations. They confirmed there was no new activity.

Mount Rainier reminds us that September is National Preparedness Month. It is a good time to think about how you can prepare for the next event, volcanic or otherwise. USGS provides information that can help our communities prepare for and respond to, natural hazards such as volcanic eruptions and lahars, early earthquake warning systems, floods, tsunamis, and weather-related events associated with climate change. Visit for more information.

Mount Rainier resources:

Sign up to receive email notifications of activity at Cascade Range volcanoes (including Mount Rainier) through the USGS Volcano Notification System.

Learn more about preparedness, including actions to take before and during volcanic unrest, as part of September's National Preparedness Month!

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