Well of course, being a tail-end child of The Sixties (“the part that went over the fence last,” as they used to say) you’d assume that I might like something quite so trippy as this marvellous short piece by Beryl Allee. This is not, however, some pharmaceutical double-entendre lead-in to a few minutes of visual drug paraphernalia. No! No! No! Don’t mistake the sizzle for the steak. There is so much more here. We are all frogs; it is a parable for our times:
Every year for the past several, Pecos Hank has been compiling an anthology of his year’s storm chasing, all accompanied by his own music. I’ve come to look forward to these about as much as I once did Judith Merril’sYear’s Best anthologies.
Here is Pecos Hank’s 2022, including some great shots of tornado genesis in drought-dry Texas fields:
“On anticipated big days, A storm chaser might drive all the way to Iowa and only see some rain. Then turn around and drive all night back to Texas and only see some rain. A storm chaser might drive all the way to Montana only to get a sun burn. And sometimes a storm chaser isn’t expecting to see anything and they find a monster.”
This is another panel from the 2022 Artists of the Wall. This one, I believe, was completed after the event as I do not at all remember seeing it when I took photos there a week after. There are usually a few panels that get completed in the weeks after, but then, befuddled by fumes of THC as I often am, how can I say for sure if this is one of them?
“Ou la la” could be an appropriate title. “La la,” I have read, is something one might say over spilt milk:
It is a dark and stormy night. The rain comes gushing down: A multitude of splats becomes a roar, the air a thousand concussions. A cold wind descends from heaven. Outside flickers with a sick florescent sky. Inside humidity makes the jar slick when returned to the fridge. It slips. It falls. It breaks in pieces: a half pound of coffee.
Oh! la la…
Thus back in the imaginary days of the Moulin Rouge, “ou la la” accompanied the choreographed display of chorus-girls’ underwear as an expression of mass mock dismay over a collective wardrobe malfunction.
Of course, that may all be so much horse feathers as “la la” is not exclusively dismay…
In a sense, this 7 minute video of incredibly beautiful tornadic violence is the video equivalent of academic field notes, no voice-over but with captions and music. I would nominate this as being Reed Timmer’s most spectacular storm video yet. You’ve got to see this, full screen and headphones recommended:
This video “uses zoomed-in 4k drone footage to analyze the complexities of tornado vortex dynamics, and especially the relationship of the tornado with the frictional surface of the Earth. We examine O-ring vortex structure with descending vortex breakdown bubbles, the intense jet-like vortices that form beneath these low pressure reservoirs, and the cyclical nature of all-of-the-above. We perform these analyses on the Andover, KS Dominator Drone footage from April 29, 2022. Never stop chasing.”
No: for real. These are ice clouds and it has nothing to do with it being winter. Up where these clouds float, water shivers and freezes, becoming cakes of floating ice crystals — which is, come to think of it, exactly what they would be if they were spread upon the surface of the beach or of the lake rather than tens of thousand feet above. Now listen for the crunch-squeak of giant feet walking in the snow above…
When you consider that part of my Dad’s job was to take weather readings at the local airport, I grew up remarkably ignorant of meteorology, even to the point of not realizing just how ignorant I was. Things haven’t improved much. I can tell you that the clouds in the photo are cirrostratus / cirrocumulus but I wouldn’t insist upon it as that level of confidence requires a kind of pattern recognition that is not one of my strong points, as I discovered when I tried to learn to recognize different woods by their grain (8th grade shop class, if you must know).
Those of you with a smattering of Latin should catch a distinct whiff of biology in the terminology and you’re right. The practice of cloud nomenclature largely stems from the work of 18th / 19th centuries “industrial chemist and amateur meteorologist” Luke Howard who did indeed borrow from the Linnaean. There’s only been one book-length biography of Howard that I know of, Richard Hamblyn’s 2001 The Invention of Clouds. I think I may reread it rather than simply reshelving it.