Clouds, Contest, and Holidays…Oh My!

Jennifer here. I hope you’ve enjoyed our June journey through the clouds. The research we do on Writing Prompts, Thoughts and Ideas, Oh My! is fun and entertaining for us. We want you to reap the benefits from our investigations. Join us in July as we explore the holidays by the season. Now for our monthly contest…

When you hear the word contest, what do you think? Money, new car, fame, fortune? Sorry, this isn’t that kind of contest. However, if you could spend a $10 Amazon gift card and bask in a smidgen of fame among your fellow writers, this contest is for you.

Begin your (under 500 words) short story with this month’s cloud prompt below…

“A slight breeze tugged on the linen as Nonnie secured it to the clothes line. She glanced toward the western sky. A thin sheet of delicate, white lace, much like her grandmother’s curtains, spread from the north to the south. However, that beautiful picture was not what caused her breath to hitch in her lungs . . .

Winner will be announced on next Tuesday’s blog. That means you’ll need to have your award-winning story to us by midnight Sunday (central time). Amaze and wow us and win, win, win. We look forward to seeing your story. Tell all your friends.

Someone is going to win an Amazon gift card. It might as well be you.

Cumulonimbus

Have you ever had one of those weeks that you just don’t know what day it is? Well, that is this week for me. Usually I have something to remind me. Like church on Sunday, or my daughter’s dance on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, or rain on Wednesday.

There has been little to nothing rain wise and the temperatures have been hot, hot, hot. Kind of odd for Kansas in June. Oh, it does get hot in June, but not usually this hot this fast.

But I’m not here to talk about the temperatures, not really. I’m here to talk about clouds. As I’ve said there are so many different types. It’d take at least another month to cover them all. So, I’ve reserved today (a day late) for my favorite types of clouds. Cumulonimbus. There are several sub-species of these types of clouds and because they all form in unstable air they almost always produce some type of storm, whether it’s a little rain shower or a massive thunderstorm that produces tornadoes.

These three pictures were taken the day of the Joplin tornado from just south of Topeka. These pictures were taken looking southeast. Although the tops are high (cumulus congestus) they don’t look to bad.

Here the rest of the cloud base is beginning to explode and meet that single tower. This is a small example of cumulonimbus calvas. Of course, I’m betting the people closer to the storm would think it’s not so small.

This is the same set of clouds, but they’ve moved further away.

This is a different day and I’m looking toward the west as the sun is setting. My point of showing you this picture is for you to get a perspective of what these types of clouds look like coming and going.

Looks ominous, doesn’t it? Just some funky looking clouds with wind and rain. Nothing more.

I believe this is a very turbulent Mammatus cloud. These types of clouds can be associated with tornadic cells. And if I recall correctly this one did have tornado warning on it.

This is a funnel cloud. My husband took this picture just a block from our home.

And this is the same storm, the same funnel cloud. My brother took this picture from his house several miles northeast from ours.

These clouds aren’t considered tornadoes until they actually touch the ground.

Here is an excerpt from my Western Romance Love at Twenty Paces–

Shielding her eyes, she scanned the western sky. In typical Kansas fashion, the sun shone high and hot, while bright, white clouds bubbled like suds in a washtub. A storm was brewing. If it got too hot, the clouds too high, a monster wind was sure to funnel down from the sky and rip to shreds everything in its path.

This week’s writing prompt- choose one of the pictures above and write a small scene.

Clouds

Cirrus Aviaticus – Contrails

Author, Joe Thomissen
And now, an “artificial” cloud: Contrails
We used to call them jet trails. The thin lines across the brilliant, blue sky, evidence of the flight of an airliner. Sometimes you’ll see several, crisscrossing one another. I never really thought of these as being actual clouds. But they are.
How are contrails formed? Jet engines emit exhaust that contains water vapor. Above 26,000 feet where the temperature is usually below -40 °F, condensation occurs quickly. Ice crystals form and your vapor trail is created. 
Contrails can also be triggered by changes in air pressure, (wingtip vortices) in lower altitudes, when the jets are traveling at slower rates of speed. They trail behind the wingtips and wing flaps rather than the engines. 
Contrails have an opposite effect called Distrails, which looks like a tunnel through existing clouds. It is the path of the jet, as shown in the picture below.
I would like to note here that there is some concern about the longterm consequences of contrails and chemtrails. You can read more about this aspect at http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/space/contrail-effect.html.

Research

Author, Brocken Inaglory

The Veil

There are so many types of cloud formations that we could talk about them for weeks on end and we haven’t even hit my favorites. Hopefully we’ll do that next week. I’m hope you’re seeing the formation of clouds depends on what part of the atmosphere they’re in. They also depend on several other factors too. Like the cirrostratus. The cirrostratus are high based clouds “when convectively stable moist air cools to saturation at a high altitude” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cloud_types). Sometimes, websites say it best, especially when it comes to science.

The thing about cirrostratus clouds, and I’m sure you’ve noticed it yourself, is that they almost always take up the entire visual when they move in. Since I don’t have a picture available, let me try to describe it to you. It’s like a wave riding across the sky. Well, riding depends on how fast the cloud is moving. The reason it takes up so much space is usually because a frontal line is pushing it, so depending on how quickly that frontal line is moving depends on fast the cloud moves.

As the cloud gets closer, depending on the weight of precipitation, which depends on the temperatures and whether or not they’re clashing with other fronts, the cloud formations can begin to look lower, heavier and darker. This frontal cloud can mean rain or snow. Here is a great link to a time lapse video http://youtu.be/gNGhvbjBVQw.

Here is another video.

The optical phenomena that you see is most likely from the cloud formations changing and dropping into the lower atmosphere. It seems to me that as the clouds thicken and more ice crystals form, the sun reflects off of them like a prism causing the beautiful spectacle.

The videos I shared are of a more dramatic nature of the cirrostatus and come along with other cloud formations. As I said above, much depends on the many other factors. However, there are times when the cirrostatus appears to be nothing more than a thin sheet of lace.

I love how dictionary.com describes the cirrostratus– appearing as a whitish and usually somewhat fibrous veil.

Writing prompt:  A slight breeze tugged on the linen as Nonnie secured it to the clothes line. She glanced toward the western sky. A thin sheet of delicate, white lace, much like her grandmother’s curtains, spread from the north to the south. However, that beautiful picture was not what caused her breath to hitch in her lungs . . .

“Mackerel” Clouds

In the past, my descriptions of clouds would be white, puffy, cottony, cotton candy—do you see a pattern here? What I’ve learned over the last few weeks is that there are all types of clouds and many are not so puffy.

Cirrocumulus floccus
Cirrocumulus are high altitude, cold weather clouds that contain snow or ice. They are actually tiny puff clouds, sometimes referred to as cloudlets. Often cirrocumulus clouds are called “mackerel” clouds because of their resemblance to the scales of a fish. Cirrocumulus clouds never cast self-shadows and are translucent to a certain degree. A cloud without a shadow? Interesting.

Cirrocumulus clouds tend to reflect the red and yellow colours during a sunset and sunrise, and thus they have been referred to as “one of the most beautiful clouds”. This occurs because they reflect the unscattered rays of light from the early morning or evening sun, and those rays are yellow, orange, and red.

Today’s writing prompt:
 Alan reached for Sue’s hand as he pointed toward the setting sun. “See the cirrocumulus clouds?”
Sue’s smile turned to a frown. “Yes. But what’s that coming through…

For more on these clouds and others, check out the following links: