Ice Clouds

Photo by Roman.

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.

Swallows in June

Something to look forward to… In this case, your memory of the future is being evoked by this image of a pleasant day in 2021 along Lake Michigan in Chicago’s Loyola Park.

Photo by Roman.

(Swept up by tornadic winds in a violent thunderstorm, the vacant boat dock was shattered and deposited in a rain of debris miles inland where storm spotters had to explain what they meant when they reported: “It’s raining buoys!”)

Weather Report

I’ve not done any reviews lately, so let me pretend to do one by merely introducing you to a new product from the National Weather Service: the Winter Weather Liason. It’s experimental and maybe not fully functional, but a web portal to current winter storm conditions is a nice and useful idea, me thinks. Here is a screenshot of the home page on Friday, 12.31.2021:

Screenshot December 31, 2021

Note that in addition to local radar and storm reports, it also has a page of strategic traffic/weather CAMS

I’m looking forward to how this site works today and how it develops over time.

“Shadows in the Sky”

This is incredible. This is stunning. Or at least I think so! This is work that Mike Olbinski posted back in April of 2021, but if you’ve not yet seen it… It’s powerful. Lyrically, the music really has nothing to do with the weather; as best as I understood them, the lyrics were ominous and seriously creepy. But Olbinski’s great weather videography is superbly edited into the melody for a profoundly beautiful and unsettling affect and effect. Within seconds, I was prepared to head for the basement. Full screen and headphones recommended and — heads up: strobing lightning. See for yourself:

The music is the song “The Last Goodbye” by Eric Kinny, featuring Danica Dora.

On the video’s web page, Olbinski explains:

“Sometimes it takes you months to find the correct song for your next project and other times you find it in about three minutes. When I heard The Last Goodbye, the haunting melody and gorgeous vocals, not to mention the cinematic feel leading to a pulse-pounding finale, I knew instantly I wanted to use this for a black and white film.

“Interestingly enough, while I love making these monochrome films, I’ve had this newfound love of color in storms, the variety, the stunning tones of greens, blues, oranges, reds and everything in-between. So as I was making this film entirely in black and white, I kept getting this unsatisfied feeling. I decided to try something new about halfway through, when the song’s pace slowly increases, and I hope it’s something you enjoy!

“I love this song, I love these clips and I love chasing storms. The scenes in this film have appeared before, and I cannot wait to get out and get some new stuff to share down the road. It may be two years of collecting footage again before I create something new, so I had to put something out now to tide me over until then and also to fire me up for storm season! Hope you enjoy!”

Sun After Rain

Photo by Roman.

This seems appropriate as the past few days have had some pretty lively weather here in Rogers Park, Chicago, even though the photo itself was taken several weeks ago. As I type this, yet another wave of thunderstorms are headed our way. Will they make it here?

Yesterday, the storms arrived in the early evening with some spectacular straight-line winds from storms that were collapsing: “outflow dominant” as storm chasers might call it. The same storms had produced tornadoes out in DeKalb county and it added some suspense to the day to track them on their way here. Indeed, the radar animation was fascinating. It seemed as though storm cells one after another were being born just west of there in a continuous stream, like a bubble machine, all marching in a train aimed dead at us.

Straight-line winds can be every bit as troublesome as any tornado. On this occasion, the rain came down in clouds that broke in waves against the east wing of the building in great swirls that rose up against the west wing. And various unfortunate neighbors came home from their day that evening, very wet indeed. “Drowned rat” or “wet t-shirt” or simply “sodden” were words that came to mind. I hope no cell phones were ruined. Having been in those squishing shoes myself, there comes a point when distress is pointless. Wet is all there is, all there was, all there ever will be… until…

Here comes the sun…