I’ve just discovered this great print from James Brown Designs & Prints. It beautifully illustrates the cloud classification system. So I thought I’d do a bit of cloud spotting, working my way through the clouds he’s depicted, taking a snap or two and finding out a bit more about them.
Cirrus is Latin for a lock of hair – and Cirrus clouds do have a distinctive, wispy look about them. When they appear together in tufts they’re called Mare’s tails, which tend to have hooked ends.
They’re high altitude clouds, shaped by the upper winds and they’re blown in at speed. They arrive just before an approaching weather front to tell us that rain is on the way. (They don’t make rain themselves, they’re just the messengers).
Mare’s tails and mackerel scales make tall ships carry low sails.
In other words, if you’re in a tall ship, pull in your sails because bad weather’s coming.
The day I saw these Mare’s tails it was beautiful and hot with no sign of rain, so I was doubtful about the reliability of the forecast. However the next day I drew back the curtains and just as they predicted, it was a grey, blustery ‘grab your coat’ day.