Ponder storm clouds, three minutes of mesmerizing timelapse tonic to soothe your furrowed brow.
Cloud streets are long rows of cumulus cloud oriented parallel to the direction of wind. Cloud streets are a product of convection – rolling waves of rising warm air met by sinking layers of upper atmosphere cold air. Atmospheric science 101 – clouds form when water droplets contained in rising warm air condense on introduction to sinking cold air.
Morning cloud streets over Vancouver Island. Image via CTV News Vancouver Island.
Cloud streets are technically called horizontal convection rolls. Typically observed from satellite eyes above, cloud streets generally form over vast expanses of ocean water. Unique to cloud streets are cloud free zones on either side created by sinking cold air.
Every cloud has a story, explanation and reason for being there. Next time you look up, remind yourself of exquisitely balanced natural forces responsible for life as we know it.
Seems pandemic times directly impact accuracy of extended weather forecasts. Who knew commercial air traffic accounted for 700,000 meteorological reports a day? Few realize commercial airliners collect and relay data on air pressure, humidity, air temperature and wind speed as the fly their route. 50-75% fewer commercial flights a day translates to a huge gap in weather data available to forecasters. One – three day predictions remain relatively accurate. Notable inaccuracy plagues four – fourteen day forecasts.
Rare polar stratospheric clouds known as nacreous or mother of pearl clouds were captured in timelapse by Adrien Mauduit of Night Lights Films. Stratospheric iridescence requires extreme cold, abundance of high altitude moisture and precisely timed low horizon sunlight striking ice crystals for a moment in time. Ponder stratospheric rarity –
A laughably inaccurate perception exists that all Canadians embrace snowstorms with rugged practicality indicative of life above the 49th parallel. Misconception oblivious to geography or temperate zones, woefully misinformed generalizations held by those who haven’t witnessed mayhem unleashed by a Vancouver snowstorm.
Want to freak out British Columbia Lower Mainland residents? Mention snow. Want to watch a preposterous comedic symphony of incompetence? Let it snow, let it snow. Trust me, it’s hysterical.
Snow paralyzes our transit system, schools close, public safety warnings urge residents to stay home, highways & major arteries aren’t plowed, ice bombs falling from suspension bridge cables assault commuters – Canada’s third largest city grinds to a halt! Abandoned vehicles dot city streets, slightest inclines defeat motorists while sidewalks turn into ice fields. Snow-wise Canadians beyond our delicate rainforest bubble must be shaking their heads. I’m shaking my head, wanting to scream – take a run at the hill, don’t slam on the brakes gear down, take your foot off the gas and steer into the slide. It’s insane! A spectacle so un-Canadian all I can do is laugh.
Best laugh of the week came after a mid-week dump of 10 Cm or so – organizers of a snowball fight at the University of British Columbia called it off due to snow!
A video from 2017 cracks me up. Granted, there isn’t a salt shortage this year but worth a watch to put Lower Mainland winter circus act in perspective –
As I write snow flurries fall without regard for Vancouver’s inability to cope. Giddy local meteorologists embrace one last round of fear mongering before warm Pacific air overtakes Arctic outflow. By morning I could wake to mounds of fresh snow, freezing rain or a steady downpour.
A day from now icicles under my back deck will surrender to the great thaw. We’ll spend a few days complaining about gargantuan slush puddles, exhale relief over return to familiar patterns of dreary West Coast rain, pat ourselves on the back for surviving the storm of January 2020. The city won’t acquire more snowplows, residents won’t consider buying winter tires, public transit won’t implement snow event improvements, people won’t buy salt or snow shovels until panic stricken. Life goes on. Nobody learns a thing, let alone feels sheepish for exhibiting such a poor display of winterization. Sigh.
Transient – mesmerizing, primal, inspirational, humbling, freaking incredible. Filmmaker /photographer Dustin Farrel spent the summer of 2017 traveling 20,000 miles around the United States of America capturing lightening strikes at 1,000 frames per second.
“There is peace even in the storm” – Vincent Van Gogh
Involuntary elation is a thing of beauty. We all harbor exhilaration triggers, a uniquely personal, undeniably human emotional response to unexpected experiences. One of my earliest childhood memories is an emotional response to severe weather. A oppressively hot summer afternoon dotted with ritual counting of seconds between lightening strike and thunderous percussion. Inclement perfection culminating in the mother of all thunderstorms. To this day every hair on my body stands in awe of stormy punctuation.
For the first time in over 50 years, skies are officially cloudier. This year maestros of meteorologic whimsy, conduits of foreboding trepidation and petticoats of nature’s fancy were asked to make room for Asperitas at the head table. Gavin Pretor-Pinney, founder of the Cloud Appreciation Society inducted Asperitas into the International Cloud Atlas hall of fame. A monumental achievement in science clouded by genre, subsection, supplementary features and special circumstance.
Gavin Pretor-Pinney defined Asperitas as –
… localized waves in the cloud base, either smooth or dappled with smaller features, sometimes descending into sharp points, as if viewing a roughened sea surface from below. Varying levels of illumination and thickness of cloud can lead to dramatic visual effects.
Vancouver B.C. has declared a salty state of emergency. Retail outlets sold out snow shovels and ice melt weeks ago. Ads on Craigslist offer ice melt salt for a staggering $20 – 40 a bag. Desperate citizens resort to crow bar, hammer and axe sidewalk clearing. Not once in four decades of calling Vancouver home can I recall free salt relief stations at fire-halls across the city.
Watch what happens – first clip, a minute that speaks for itself. Second video, added commentary of the evening news.
At first one might confuse our salt shortage with images of starving refugees swarming aid stations for grains of rice. I shudder to think of behavior in an actual emergency.
Contrary to assumption not all Canadians thrive in winter’s slap. Those of us in south western British Columbia expect winter to follow rules. Rain forest winter needn’t be complicated, decency dictates adherence to basic guidelines – Relentless rain falls from November to February. Every six weeks or so Arctic outflow overpowers Pacific sogginess. Brief sunshine averts total despair. Temperatures plunge below freezing, we speculate on probability of rain or snow. Occasionally timing breaks monotonous rain, delivering just enough snow to ignite frenzied sales of snow shovels, salt and winter tires. Enough to cripple public transit, close schools, unleash ice bombs from suspension bridges and occupy local media until rain washes it away. Residents tolerate inconvenience because rules stipulate winter has an obligation to keep snow on the mountains.
December 5, 2016 the first measurable snow since February 2014 invaded my space. Rain forest rules said it could stay a few days, snow made other plans. After three frosty weeks I say enough! Walking home from work tonight required nimbleness of a cat. Are you nuts rain forest winter? Fifteen harrowing minutes to walk two blocks, each step calculated to avert calamity. Thick ice, thin ice, black ice. Ice in the air, ice on the wind, ice locked snow. WTF! Photos snapped along the way can’t begin to illustrate treacherous conditions but take my word – this rain forest winter is not normal.
Children’s Hospital parking lot near my house.
Looking down my street.
More car share vehicles than any city in the world is moot if they can’t pull onto a street. Down the block Car2Go suggests angle parking – it isn’t. I personally abandoned the second car four days ago, no match for thick ice under the snow.