This second "Sideways Plus" post offers an excerpt from "Cloud," the second chapter of my new book, A Sideways Look at Clouds, and illustrations and resources related to the chapter.
"I recognized a cloud when I saw one of course, but I couldn't explain what made a cloud a cloud and not something else, such s smoke, haze, steam, or mist. I knew clouds were made of water and that they floated, but so did icebergs. What kind of water were clouds made of? Was it plain old water--H20--or something more special? Was fog a cloud? What were the defining features of a cloud?."
"From twelve different sources, I copied out twelve different definitions of "cloud." I marked the words that appeared in at least three of the definitions. Ten key words emerged: visible, mass, water, droplets, ice, crystals, suspended, atmosphere, above, earth. By adding a few prepositions and articles, I created a new definition: 'A cloud is a visible mass of water droplets or ice crystals suspended in the atmosphere above the earth.'...Each word felt like a stepping-stone--no, more like a door. A door I could open. A door I could wanter through to find my way into the clouds."
The Danger Zone: Click here for information on the free, two-hour SkyWarn Weather Spotter Training offered by National Weather Service (NWS) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Local classroom training and online training are offered. Click here to hear the song that accompanied the time-lapse sequences of "menacing" clouds shown during my training course. The poor clouds!
Order a copy of The Invention of Clouds: How an Amateur Meteorologist Forged the Language of the Skies, by Richard Hamblyn. This story of Luke Howard (a chemist and lifelong cloud watcher) answers the question: Why did it take so long to name the clouds?
Get lost in the clouds by following this link to the International Cloud Atlas. This new digital edition was released in March 2017 by the World Meteorological Organization and is the gold standard for professional meteorologists, for those working in aeronautical and maritime environments, and for the amateur cloud-watcher.
The Cloud Appreciation Society is a web-based organization for cloud lovers around the world. On blue-sky days, you can find all the clouds (photos, poems, science, history) you'd ever want here. Become member and get a cloud a day in your inbox.
My three go-to books for identifying clouds:
Next Sideways Plus post will feature the "Visible" chapter.