Ukrainian authorities urged members of the public not to panic after a mushroom-shaped cloud spotted near Chernobyl sparked fears of a nuclear blast.
People aren’t likely to forget the devastation caused by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster any time soon, and many relived the horrific events again through the recent HBO series, so when an ominous cloud was spotted in a similar area, it’s not surprising that people began to express their concerns.
The huge cloud loomed over the Ukrainian capital city of Kiev, less than 60 miles from Chernobyl, where a nuclear reactor exploded in 1986.
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Its curious formation was the main reason for concern, as the cloud had a large, flat top and a thick trunk that appeared to be stemming from the ground.
Locals took to social media to share images of the cloud, with one person commenting: ‘Is it Putin testing a new nuclear weapon?’
In spite of the speculation, however, Ukrainian officials assured residents there was nothing to worry about as the Ukrainian State Emergency Service shared photos of the cloud online, joking: ‘Admit it, who got scared?’
Rather than a life-threatening explosion, the formation was actually a rare phenomenon the authorities said is known as an ‘anvil cloud’, meaning there ‘was no reason for any worries’.
We have had these types of clouds before above Kiev Oblast, Ternopil Oblast and Vinnitsa.
While locals didn’t have to worry about evacuating the area, they may have needed to prepare their umbrellas, as anvil clouds often signal oncoming thunderstorms.
The formation, which is also called a cumulonimbus incus, is a type of dense cloud formed by water vapour carried upwards by strong air currents, which has reached stratospheric stability and has formed the characteristic flat, anvil-top shape.
Interestingly, the clouds typically don’t move, no matter how strong the wind is, which may be why some Kiev residents speculated the sight might be a UFO, rather than the result of a nuclear blast. The clouds typically slowly disappear – though not before sparking fear, evidently.
If the cloud had been caused by a nuclear blast, it likely would have been dispersed by winds after about an hour.
Residents would no doubt have been relieved to learn the cloud was nothing to worry about, especially after the infamous Chernobyl disaster caused numerous deaths and is thought to have affected the health of thousands of people.
The disaster was the result of both a flawed design and mistakes made by those operating the reactor.