Clouds in Unlikely Places

   "It never snows here."  This is what us newcomers were told four years ago when we moved to the Pacific Northwest. It has snowed every year, and not just a dusting. Our first storm arrived yesterday and wintery temperatures in the 20s. Watching the snow fall and swirl to earth made me feel like I was inside a snow globe. Trying to get around in it this morning, however, was delightful but only if you were walking in sturdy boots. I was out walking the dog and noticed this strange pattern (above and below) in the untrammeled snow on my road. I don't think I'm the only one who sees these patterns as cloud-like--even altocumulus-like. Altocumulusesque if you like.
  Somehow, I focussed my eyes just so and my gait just so and before I knew it I almost had vertigo from the sensation of flying above this blanke of "clouds" as if I were in an airplane looking down. It's a bit hard to recreate that feeling from these small photographs, but you get the idea.
  This was the sky just after dawn this morning. The gentle winds aloft seemed to be sculpting these clouds.
It was lovely to have such a beautiful sunny and cloud-filled day after the gray snowy skies.
  And, since clouds seem to be appearing just about everywhere these days, look at what the folks in Bend, Oregon, are producing! (below)
This is the label of the Deschutes Brewery's "Inversion" India Pale Ale. Look at those clouds! What's the connection to an inversion you might ask. This beer will not inspire you to stand on your head or do other party tricks. No, the folks at Deschutes Brewery are much cleverer than that. According to the label:
"Here is Oregon's High Desert, seasonal changes often bring about a peculiar weather phenomenon--an inversion. The higher up the mountain you go, the sunnier it gets. So even when Bend is covered in clouds, the faithful know where to find clarity."
  Maybe a bit too clever, eh? I turn to my favorite Encyclopedia of Weather and Climate by Michael Allaby for the science. An inversion is the "condition in which the air temperature increases with height, rather than decreases." This is an inversion of the normal condition of air cooling with height.
   So, while you are climbing Mount Hood or the Three Sisters with your six-pack of IPA, the air gets warmer as you climb up (not just because of your load). Inversions are common in areas surrounded by mountains. The mountains restrict the movement and mixing of air so that the cool (heavier) air is trapped below the layer of clouds while the sun is warming the air above the clouds.
   This IPA is a delicious beer. The label art is fun and meteorologically interesting. But, I must say, I prefer to hang out with heathens who find clarity in the clouds.