Sunday, June 29, 2008


For a year or so, we've been trying to improve our understanding of weather systems in general and forecasting in particular. We'd simply love to be able to look at the sky and say things like, “There were wispy cirrus clouds yesterday afternoon and they haven't thickened, so the weather should remain fair for the next 24 hours.” Our motivation is more than academic; we want to feel more confident about when it's safe to paddle and when we ought to stay home.
This goal has led us to purchase various weather books, follow the weather page of the Chicago Tribune almost obsessively, check in regularly with several weather-related websites, and take lots of photographs of clouds. Here are some images from our ride home, along with our understanding of what they suggest about impending weather.

Low blankets of thick nimbostratus clouds predict rain--which, in fact, happened shortly after we took this photo.

As a new front moves in, fair-weather cumulus clouds give way to taller, more ominous swelling cumulus clouds, which later built to cumulus congestus.

True cumulus congestus clouds. Next stop: cumulonimbus (thunderhead) clouds.

Rain falling and thunder in the distance. Probably not the best time to be out on the water.

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