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'What the heck is that?': Mystery cloud captured on camera by B.C. resident

A meteorologist has a pretty good guess of what it might be.

A mystery cloud was spotted on Wednesday night in Abbotsford, leaving one B.C. resident questioning what she witnessed.

Ashley Patton was outside with her boyfriend around 5:50 p.m. when a shape in the sky caught her attention. 

"I noticed it and I was like, ‘What the heck is that?’"

The formation in the sky, above Everett Street, only stuck around for about 10 minutes before a cloud came in and the shape disappeared. 

A photograph shows a very clean linear column in the sky above a house.

Patton pointed it out to her boyfriend, who shrugged it off and surmised that it was from an aircraft.

She tells Glacier Media she couldn't get over how bizarre it looked.

"It was so eerie. We all said it was like something from Stranger Things climbing out of the sky,” says Patton. 

She decided to take a photograph of the vertical-looking cloud. 

"'Is this a cloud or is this something else?'" she thought.

Derek Lee, a meteorologist with Environment Canada and Climate Change, studied Patton’s image and was able to quickly rule out one possibility. 

"When I see a column of air kind of vertically in the atmosphere, I always think, 'Oh no, that's not a good sign,'" says Lee. 

Some may think it's a funnel cloud — but that’s incorrect, according to Lee. 

“A funnel cloud would indeed need forcing in the atmosphere that causes rotation, like a strong low-pressure system moving through the area,” he says. “That's how funnel clouds get their elongated shape as a rotating thin column of air.”

Funnel clouds are often associated with thunderstorms, especially in the summer. 

"I do see a vertical column of air, but it's winter [and] we're not getting a low-pressure system,” he says. “Looking at the picture of the mystery cloud, if it indeed was a funnel cloud, it was quite low. So that would have caused more commotion, I would think, in the area.”

This cloud mystery might be solved, though.

“The best bet right now... a contrail from a plane that took off nearby.” 

As planes take off, Lee explains, they release moisture.

The result? A cloud-looking shape left behind. 

If you capture an odd weather event or have a story and would like to get in touch, email

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