The views from high up a New Hampshire mountain include UFO-shaped clouds and spiny rime ice.

New Hampshire’s Mount Washington, located about 50 miles northwest of Portland, Maine, isn’t a place you’d want to be caught without long underwear. The temperature in the coldest months regularly dips below zero (the lowest recorded was minus-47 in 1934), and foul-weather winds can practically rip a beard off your face (the all-time winner of 231 mph makes most hurricanes look like annoying, household drafts).

While not suitable for shirts-versus-skins football, Mount Washington’s winters and falls are perfect for creating wondrous, CGI-quality landscapes of cloud and ice. Exhibit A is Sunday’s weather, which featured deadly-looking (but in reality delicate) frozen shards and saucer-shaped clouds that appeared ready to suck up some local. The Mount Washington Observatory, a nonprofit science institution that maintains a weather station 6,288 feet up on the summit, caught it all on camera:

Mount Washington Observatory

The flying-pancake apparitions are called lenticular clouds, and they typically (though not always) form where large landmasses like mountains force air high in the sky. Mount Washington seems like a decent place for hunting lenticulars; other ones popped up this year in October and July. Now turn your attention to the crusty growth that looks like something that’d sprout from an albino Sonic the Hedgehog:

Mount Washington Observatory

That’s a healthy accumulation of rime ice, which occurs when supercooled drops of water freeze quickly on a surface. While the orientation of the spikes suggests that fierce winds drove in from the left of the photo, the opposite is the case. The observatory tweets: “#Rime forms when we are in the clouds & below freezing, & grows into the wind!”

Here are a few additional views from the peak from Sunday. If you like this kind of stuff, visit the observatory’s shop for other fantastic images, including more seriously weird ice formations.

Mount Washington Observatory

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