Such vast quantities of water … held suspended in the air in clouds so light, fragile, and evanescent … How is the water-dust suspended in the atmosphere? …
Sometimes we see a dense heavy mist lying so thickly over the fields that it seems as if nothing could dissipate it, yet it is so thin and frail that the sun rapidly melts it away. At other times we look on colossal mountains of cloud, and see the sunlight beating on them all day long yet they resist him victoriously, and shine in more wonderful splendour when he sinks below the horizon, and then they mysteriously steal away, and bright stars shine serenely where they stood.
~Alfred Rowland, “The Clouds: God’s Angels of the Sea,”
in The Sunday Magazine (London), 1884
April showers fell across the foothills of the Crescenta Valley. The poetic weather term “April showers” originally described springtime weather throughout the British Isles; it was part of “Sweet April showers/Do spring May flowers,” a poem written in 1610. April is a not a big rain producer here across the pond; so any and all precipitation is a gratefully received gift. The 2015-16 season rain total now stands at 16.02 inches. Compared with last year’s meager 10 inches, not bad. With an average – in our location – of 24 inches, it’s not too good either. Enough crying over that over which we have no control. What didn’t materialize in the way of water certainly did in the abundance and variety of its source – clouds.
Between brief showers, at one point I counted eight different types of clouds. With the interplay of sunlight and winds, they transform the sky into an artist’s canvas. Cloud watching has become my newest passion. I can better appreciate the phrase “being on cloud nine.”
“Cloud nine’ generally describes a state of happiness beyond expectation or a feeling of euphoria. But how, exactly, did the “ninth cloud” become the one to settle upon? Tracing the origin of words and phrases is often difficult, but the term “cloud nine” is found in the 1895 scientific text International Cloud Atlas. It contains a classification of 10 cloud types. The fluffy-topped Cumulonimbus cloud reaches a lofty 60,000 feet. Yes, it is listed as cloud nine!
Any lingering clouds will vanish with strong and gusty winds that are forecast Thursday and Friday. Above normal temperatures – mid 80s – are expected for the weekend and into next week. Clear skies Sunday night allow for a good view of the Pink Moon, named from the color of the first spring blossoms. Enjoy …
Sue Kilpatrick is a
Crescenta Valley resident and
Official Skywarn Spotter for the
National Weather Service. Reach her at email@example.com.