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Ominous 'UFO Cloud' Over California Sparks Comparisons To The Movie 'Nope'

A lenticular cloud spotted over California looks like it's right out of the Jordan Peele horror film.

Screenshot of Keke Palmer from the movie, "Nope"
Universal Pictures

People who saw Jordan Peele's neo-Western sci-fi thriller Nope thought they were experiencing a scene from the movie in real life when they spotted what appeared to be a UFO in the sky.

A giant swirling cloud taking on the shape of a flying saucer that hovered above an area outside of Palm Springs, California, captivated witnesses.

To them, the sky-high spectuacle was reminiscent of Nope–the 2022 summer horror film about horse-wrangling siblings and their mission to capture evidence and sell footage of the unidentified flying object that has been terrorizing them and taking their horses.

Hollywood screenwriter Brian Lynch posted a photo of the alien-like phenomenon and tagged Nope's director.

Lynch–who is known for penning The Secret Life of Pets and Minions–later spoke to SFGATE and shared what he and his family saw while wandering around the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens in Palm Desert around 1 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon.

“It was hanging over us. … My kid (who has not seen 'Nope') thought it was really cool."

It didn't take long for social media users—including the IMAX Twitter account—to make a connection to the movie.





Dr. James Danoff-Burg, who is the director of conservation at the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens, was also a witness to the mysterious life-imitating art sight when he was giving a tour of the grounds to a group of visitors.

He assured the internet we were not under a close encounter threat from extraterrestrials.

Danoff-Burg said what people saw was an altocumulus standing lenticular cloud that looked like “stacked pancakes.”

According to the media publication, he said of the visitor's reactions:

"They jokingly said it looked like an alien spaceship or a UFO."




Danoff-Burg noted how lenticular clouds form above the zoo's nature preserve several a times a year–especially on cooler days.

He added:

"That day was exceptional as we had one that was stacked three levels high–a rarity."
“They are really quite spectacular.”

Cindy Palmer, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, responded when a similar sight was spotted in the Bay Area in May 2021.

Palmer told SFGATE at the time:

"They form from the wind blowing across the mountains or the hills. ... You have to have a wind that's very uniform in one direction."
"As it's moving over the mountain and the way the air lifts, the moisture condenses and forms the clouds."


Nope was written, directed, and co-produced by Peele, and it explores themes of the cinematic history of exploitation in film and people's fascination with spectacle.

The movie starred Daniel Kaluuya, and Keke Palmer, along with co-stars, Steven Yeun, Michael Wincott, Brandon Perea and Keith David.

It was theatrically released in the United States on July 22, 2022 by Universal Pictures.