The formation of long-lasting structures at the surfaces of stars is commonly ascribed to the action of strong magnetic fields. This paradigm is supported by observations of evolving cool spots in the Sun and active late-type stars, and stationary chemical spots in the early-type magnetic stars. However, results of our seven-year monitoring of mercury spots in non-magnetic early-type star α Andromedae show that the picture of magnetically driven structure formation is fundamentally incomplete. Using an indirect stellar-surface mapping technique, we construct a series of two-dimensional images of starspots and discover a secular evolution of the mercury cloud cover in this star. This remarkable structure-formation process, observed for the first time in any star, is plausibly attributed to a non-equilibrium, dynamical evolution of the heavy-element clouds created by atomic diffusion, and may have the same underlying physics as the weather patterns on terrestrial and giant planets.