Watching Clouds Time

Watching clouds is a rural activity all year. Clouds indicate the weather and dictate outside activities.

Winter clouds are much the same. High, icy, wispy mare’s tails or cirrus clouds blow over. These are long streamers with curled ends like fancy wind blown horse’s tails.

Cirrus clouds
High up the air is cold enough to freeze water. Cirrus clouds form above this altitude and are composed of ice crystals. These clouds often herald and follow storms. If enough of them are up in front of the moon, the ice scatters the light to form a halo around the moon. One night I even saw a double rainbow around the moon due to cirrus clouds floating by.

Behind the mare’s tails come gray sheets or stratus clouds to cover the sky sometimes for days. If these are thick blankets, they probably bring rain. If they are thin sheets, they bring snow. Both bring cold.

At times stratus clouds only bring cold, cloudy weather. The sun becomes a distant memory. Spirits sag waiting for a glimpse of brightness.

Watching clouds is more interesting in the summer time. Cumulus clouds pile themselves up and blow into shapes.

Sometimes the entire sky is covered with cotton balls. Each one is separate and lined up as though on a checkerboard. These are fair weather clouds marching by.

watching clouds form
Cumulus clouds are summer heat clouds. Humidity rises up until the air cools enough for the water vapor to become mist. As this happens at a certain altitude, all of the forming clouds appear at that altitude and have flat bases.

Other days the clouds are wispy. The high winds chase them across the sky blowing them into one shape after another.

On hot, humid days the clouds begin to pile into high mounds. They merge, separate and merge again. Each has a dark, flat base and mounds on top as though they were rootless mountains blowing across the sky.

Each day the mounds grow more numerous and bigger. Now and then one gets too big and dark trails of rain descend below it. Eventually they mass up and become a thunder storm.

In children’s drawings all clouds are white and puffy. Watching clouds shows this is not true at all.

watching clouds pile up
When sunlight reflects off a cloud, it appears white. As the light tries to go through a cloud, less and less is left and the cloud appears darker and darker. Really thick clouds can appear black. White light is composed of all colors of light. The last color absorbed by water is blue so that is the last color you see in the clouds.

Depending on the time of day, clouds come in many colors. Pictures of sunrises and sunsets are popular because of their yellows, pinks and reds fading into purples. During the day clouds can range from black through shads of gray and have dark blue to lighter shads of blue. Parts catch the sunlight and gleam brilliant white.

Watching clouds is always interesting as the show changes constantly. You can watch for a minute or an hour and let stress blow away with the clouds.

Admire more clouds in “My Ozark Home.”