Science

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs – Clouds and What They Mean

March 27, 2017
Altocumulous

Spring has sprung in the Carolinas, but despite the beauty of all of the blossoms and the cheery chirping of birds I am feeling a little bit lackluster. Certainly not on par with what surrounds me.

azalea bloom - clouds

Japanese Cherry Blossoms - clouds

Perhaps that is because of the inevitable move I am staring down, yet unable to do anything to prepare for because of the confines of tiny house living.

I cannot pack because, one, we live mostly amongst necessities aside from the one decorative shelf in the living room and the kids’ piggy banks on top of their dresser. Two, not only can one not pack what one needs on a daily basis, but you cannot pack if you do not have anywhere to then put the packed boxes.

It is a real struggle.

My minivan has been temporary storage for clothes coming into season and clothes going out, toys that are leaving for vacation, Christmas presents, extra toilet paper and paper towels, and items stealthily bagged to donate. Currently, the very back and the rear seat beside my eldest is completely occupied by moving boxes given to me by a friend.

When I go to the grocery store I contemplate speaking expletive words because I have no where to put the bags of groceries. I am reaching the end of my rope with regards to our stuff.

It is a frustrating first-world problem. We do not have enough space in which to circulate our stuff.

The other day I grew aggravated with the amount of things that were covering the floor of the kids’ room. While they have very few things compared to when we lived in a 3400 square feet house complete with a bonus room and a playroom, it seems all that they do have (including many books) ends up covering 90% of the limited floor space of their 84 square foot room.

kids' room - clouds

It’s like when you have a friend and her child or children over to play and the visiting little ones feel it necessary to explore and dump out every single bin in the playroom on their endless mission to find something better than what they released from the previous five bins that are already scattered about like airplane wreckage.

In my frustration I stomped out to my box storage space (read van), removed one book box, taped it up and put every single book that was on the floor (and that would fit) into the box. I exclaimed to the children that they wouldn’t be able to see those books again until after we moved.

You know what? They didn’t even care. Because, even though they only have 10% of what they used to have, they still have too much.

Do you know who really suffered?

For the next three days I pushed the heavy box back and forth from in front of the two main kitchen cabinets I use a million times a day. Finally, my husband offered to take it to his office.

Living in a tiny house has given me great inspiration to never have many things ever again. Because you just have to dust them and move them and then get mad when someone breaks something you treasured because they were wrestling in a space that does not accommodate that activity.

crab - clouds

It forces you to prioritize and reevaluate things that previously had some sort of value, monetarily or sentimentally, because there simply is not enough space for things that aren’t at the top of your list. Except somehow when this all began, I didn’t feel like wine glasses were a priority, so this was me Saturday night.

no wine glass - clouds

I know. First world problems again.

The huge silver lining about tiny house living is that it exudes a great force that calls you out of doors and that is a good thing. If weather is not permitting or you are at a lull in your day washing dishes or eating dinner, you gaze out of the windows to appreciate the wide-open space.

A few evenings ago we were crammed at our mid-mod 1979 formica table having homemade spaghetti and meatballs (see the recipe below from my marvelous half-Italian friend) and during a lull in our eye-spy game I commented on the clouds in the sky and how beautiful they were in the setting sun.

meatballs - clouds

[gmc_recipe 1310]

I yearn for silence sometimes, but it is hard not to engage my children to be aware of the beauty that surrounds them at any given moment.  It is not often that my comments are met with silence or a simple nod and this time was no exception.

The beauty of the sunset being absorbed by the clouds was discussed for about a millisecond.  Just as I was delving back into my delicious dinner I was interrupted mid-bite with a question about what type of clouds currently carried the sunset in their wisps.

Earth science was a long time ago, thus my cloud expertise is a little rusty.

Upon receiving no immediate answer, the bite interrupter fled from the table returning with a favorite book, The Visual Dictionary, broken binding and all.  He quickly turned to the page on clouds.

The clouds floating in the warmth of the sunset were cirrus clouds.

I wish I had a picture to show you.  It was a beautiful sunset.

Since I cannot deliver on that and because I am destined to refresh the memory of my fellow mama (along with mine) and anyone else who cares to follow along, here is an overview of the cloud types our wonderful mother Earth holds within her stratosphere and troposphere.

According to the National Weather Service, there are ten basic cloud types and they fall into three categories:  Low, Medium and High.

Low Clouds

Low clouds exist below 6,500 feet.  There are four types:

Cumulus

cumulous - clouds

Cumulus Clouds are generally dense with sharp outlines.  They develop vertically in mounds with upper parts often resembling a cauliflower.  The sunlit parts are cotton ball white, while the bases are dark and horizontal.

Stratus

stratus - clouds

Stratus clouds are a gray cloud layer with a uniform base.  If a stratus is thick enough it will produce drizzle or snow grains.  And, the outline of the cloud is clearly discernible when the sun is visible through this cloud.

Cumulonimbus

cumulonimbous - clouds

Cumulonimbus are known as thunderstorm clouds.  They are in the form of a mountain and are heavy and dense.  The upper portion is usually smooth striated and is almost always flattened or in the shape of an anvil.

Low ragged clouds often linger under the dark base of cumulonimbus and could merge with the base.  They produce precipitation.

Cumulonimbus clouds also produce hail and tornadoes.

Stratocumulus

stratocumulous - clouds

Stratocumulus clouds are gray or whitish in patches, sheets, or layers which almost always have dark rounded masses or rolls.

Medium Clouds

These clouds occur between 6,500 feet and 23,000 feet.  There are three types:

Altostratus

altostratus - clouds

Altostratus clouds are gray or bluish cloud sheets or layers of striated or fibrous clouds that totally or partially cover the sky. They are thin enough to regularly reveal the sun as if seen through ground-up glass.  While they show the sun through them, shadows of objects will not be seen on the ground.

Altocumulus

altocumulous - clouds

Altocumulus clouds are the most common mid-level cloud and will often appear with other cloud types.  They can be white and/or gray and are in patches, sheets or layers consisting of rounded masses or rolls.  They may be partly fibrous or diffuse.

Nimbostratus

nimbostratus - clouds

Nimbostratus are probably my least-favorite, as they are the continuous rain cloud.  Think dreary rainy day.  They are dark gray and release rain or snow.  They are thick enough to blot out the sun and the base will lower into the low level as it continues to precipitate.

High-Level Clouds

High-Level Clouds occur above 23,000 feet.  There are three types:

Cirrus

cirrus - clouds

Cirrus clouds are white and detached.  They are made up of delicate filaments in narrow bands and are fibrous and have a silky appearance.  Cirrus clouds are always composed of ice crystals and their transparency depends upon the separation of the crystals.

You will see these at sunrise (colored bright yellow or red) earlier than other clouds and also longer after sunset.  They barely reduce the brightness of the sun.

Cirrostratus

cirrostratus - clouds

Cirrostratus are transparent, whitish veil clouds with a hair-like or smooth appearance. A sheet of cirrostratus which is very extensive, nearly always ends by covering the whole sky.

Cirrostratus can be distinguished from similar clouds by the halo phenomena which is produced by the sun or the moon light.

Cirrocumulous

cirrocumulous - clouds

Cirrocumulus are uncommon clouds.  They are thin and appear in white patches, sheets or layers without any shading.  They are composed of very small arrangements of grains or ripples.

That rounds out the ten basic cloud types!

Now that you are familiar with them, you can help your children know them too.  The sky is out every day and it is often adorned with one, if not more than one type of cloud.  And, as an added bonus, you will know whether your picnic will be safe from inclement weather!

Journey on – the sky is the limit!

xo, the mamabrain at mamabrains

 

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