Small but mighty is an understatement for Lítla Dímun, an uninhabited island in the Faroe Islands of Denmark. In photos, Lítla Dímun looks like a sublime, mossy pyramid caressed by a vapory white blanket floating in the air above. This is why, while Lítla Dímun is the smallest of the Faroe Islands’ 18 islands, it still holds the power to impact the atmosphere surrounding it through its production of a fairytale-esque hovering cloud.
Lítla Dímun’s lenticular cloud
According to Atlas Obscura, the white, vapory shawl that hovers above Lítla Dímun is known as a lenticular cloud, a type of cloud that usually forms over mountain peaks or similar protruding landmasses. Meteorologist Jesse Ferrell told AccuWeather that lenticular clouds are formed when air moves over mountains, cooling down enough for condensation to take place.
“Lenticular clouds are different from other clouds because they don’t move,” Ferrell explained. “They are continually reformed over the same location by new air rising up and over a mountain, condensing and producing the clouds.” And due to their ominous, stationary nature, some people have even confused lenticular clouds for UFOs.
In Litla Dímun’s case, its lenticular cloud usually looks like a majestic little hat — however, according to Atlas Obscura, there are times when the cloud expands, spilling over the sides of the mountain and into the chilly sea.
Though Litla Dímun is typically uninhabited by humans, each fall farmers head over to the small island to round up stray sheep and bring them back to the main islands. For now, it is the sheep who have dominion over the islet. Only through scaling the cliffs of Litla Dímun are the farmers able to herd the creatures to more populated areas.
If that’s not commitment, I don’t know what is: The farmers who make the journey to Litla Dímun each autumn use ropes they’ve left on the sides of the island’s cliffs in order to make it safely to land and round up the now-domesticated sheep. How they get the sheep off the island is unclear, but it’s now my mission to contact one of these farmers and find out.
Until then, we’ll have to admire Litla Dímun, its lenticular cloud, and it’s valorous farmer visitors from afar. The weather is rarely good enough for tourists to visit. And even if it were, upper body strength would certainly be a prerequisite in order to climb those cliff-scaling ropes.