Seriously, look up once in a while. The sky can tell you all about what the weather is doing, or even WILL do, later that day or tomorrow. Here’s some tips!
Clear Blue Sky (No Haze or Clouds)
Is really rare in Louisville, KY. We swelter in a humid continental climate, on a large river. Enjoy this nice picture of a cloudless desert landscape, instead.A totally clear sky like this means that there’s so little moisture in the atmosphere that clouds can’t form. It probably won’t rain for a while, since water vapor has to move in before that can happen.
Indicate that a mass of moist air is moving back in, and rain or snow might be possible soon.
Remember: “Mare’s tails and mackerel scales mean rain in three days.”
When it’s hazy, it means that there’s a layer of warmer air trapping air pollution and humidity close to the ground. If this inversion is strong, it will prevent clouds from developing. If clouds manage to punch through it, storms could be strong. If you see haze, it probably won’t rain, but if it does, it will storm.
Fair Weather CumulusThese clouds in an otherwise clear sky mean that there’s convection going on, and enough water vapor in the air to form clouds. However, the air pressure is too high, or the convection too weak to really build up. If you see these early in the morning, it might rain later, but if they’re about in the afternoon, it’s going to continue to be nice for a while.
And now the clouds are starting to pile up.
If you see these before noon, someone’s in for a soggy evening.
A column of convection so strong that it piles up high enough to splash flat against into layer of hot stable air of the stratosphere is certainly a thunderstorm. Always be aware of clouds like this with flat “anvil” tops: they’re the towering monsters of the sky, multiple times bigger than other cumulus clouds, and capable of producing severe weather like hail, tornadoes, and flooding.
And now you know some of what the sky can tell you about the upcoming weather. Keep an eye out, and it might just come in handy!
Weird and Rare Clouds
Although the following clouds are unusual or rare where we live, they are really cool, and that’s worth something by itself.
This can happen when clouds made of water vapor are just on the point of freezing into ice crystals. When some of the water vapor freezes and clumps together, it snows out of the cloud layer, leaving a hole in the cloud.
When air pressure drops abruptly (as when wind flows around mountains), layered, lens-shaped clouds like these can form.
Are clouds that occur when a wave propagates in otherwise still air on the verge of being able to make clouds. The low-pressure pocket travels through the air, made visible as a cloud that seems to slowly roll through the air. Gliders and birds can “surf” the atmospheric wave for long distances. There’s a very reliable roll cloud called the Morning Glory that propagates on the Gulf of Carpentaria in Australia. No pictures, because pictures really don’t do it justice.