Tristan Gooley’s The Secret World of Weather: How to Read Signs in Every Cloud, Breeze, Hill, Street, Plant, Animal, and Dewdrop is the source of the following passage.
I’d want you to try an experiment over the next day or two. On the Internet, look for a weather prediction. Look for anything that mentions the wind. What is the strength, and where is it coming from? After that, go outside. I guarantee that every day you experience will be completely different from the one predicted. But why is that?
The forecasted wind is from a different weather universe from the one we live in. The wind is blowing, but it’s approximately a hundred feet over your head, as predicted. The wind you experience is made up of a diverse cast of personalities, with considerably more profound and more colorful winds than anything boring enough to be true throughout a whole forecast region. Every time a breeze hits a city building, six more breezes are born.
You should anticipate encountering ten distinct winds in a ten-minute stroll, none of which will be predicted. Every facet of weather reflects this variability. Hundreds of hints and signals may be found in clouds, plants, animals, streets, frost hollows, and sun pockets to unveil this hidden world. They’re waiting to be discovered, but if you don’t know where to look, you’ll miss them. They never show in regional reports because they are too local, too intimate.
Once you know what to look for, the indicators take on a personality of their own, and every minute spent outside seems like catching up with old friends. Even the less pleasant aspects are meaningful learning about. From The Secret World of Weather, I’d like to introduce you to a handful of main characters:
When we go through the woods after it has rained, there will always be secondary showers because the wind will shake the free part of the rain contained in the canopy. As it rattles the tops of the trees, we can hear the breeze that is to blame. Other, milder secondary showers, on the other hand, sound and feel different, and they inspire us to glance up.
When the rain stops, the water on the upper branches builds up to a dangerous level. The leaves carry just enough water for that time, with some drops resting on the leaf surfaces and others dangling from the tips. The water will remain in place until it dries or is disturbed, and since the balance is so delicate, it only takes a minor disturbance to shake it loose.
When I matched the noisy flapping of wood pigeons with the fat dollops of rain that landed upon my head, I first noticed the showers generated by birds taking off. But, since I first saw the raucous birds’ commotion and rain, I’ve learned to detect the occasional lighter shower that is too local, too narrow, and too delicate for a wind. I’ve seen woodpeckers, corvids, and even little songbirds land or take off when I look up.
Shapes, Patterns and Time
Take note of the comprehensive leaf tips on the trees you pass. Did you know that the more pointed the leaf tips, the wetter the area? Rainwater is channeled off more efficiently by leaves with different information, which have developed a central rib that leads to this point. Pointy leaves abound in tropical jungles.
Rain stipples mud, sand, silt, or snow, producing characteristic pockmarks. They describe the rain’s characteristics: how strong or gentle it is, how short or long it lasts. The rain will be shorter if the intervals are larger. Try to distinguish between frequent, lighter rain prints and the deeper, less regular markings of subsequent rains on soft mud or sand. These flawed, cruder raindrop prints reveal where a breeze or a bird has thrown down the heavy droplets. A bird took flight from a branch fifty feet above our route an hour ago, but the narrative, etched in the rain, is still fresh beneath our boots.
Is there a chance of rain? What a well-known query. Longer-term forecasting is based on the previous chapters on clouds and fronts, but we’ll frequently find ourselves staring at a single cloud and wondering if it’s likely to rain on us.
Rain seldom falls from tiny cumulus clouds, and it’s hugely improbable if they’re wider than they are tall. However, by looking at the bottom of the clouds, we can be a little more forensic. As we’ve seen, the dew point, or the height at which the temperature is chilly enough to condense the water vapor in the atmosphere, is found at the bottom of all clouds. Because this elevation is constant mainly, flat-bottomed clouds result. As a result, a cloud with a jagged base is attempting to communicate with us.
We’re all familiar with the concept that clouds bring rain. Rain causes clouds, which is a lesser-known fact. Rain cools the air directly below the cloud when it falls. More condensation occurs, as a result, resulting in jagged regions of fresh cloud slightly below the main cloud, giving the base a ruffled, rough look. As a result, smooth bases of cumulus clouds imply no rain, whereas ragged bottoms imply rain falling. In formal circles, these craggy, uneven cloud bits are referred to as “pannus” and defined as “accessory clouds.” They are the footprints of rain, and they may be observed under every cloud from which rain pours.
It is improbable that a cloud would rain on you if it has a tidy horizontal base and adequate vision below.
You may notice what appear to be thin streaks descending from the base of clouds from time to time: Virga. This is rain that evaporates before reaching the earth, rain that we can occasionally glimpse but never feel. Virga is made up of droplets or ice crystals that are just big enough to fall but not big enough to make the trek to the ground through the dry air below. The streaks can be seen dropping beneath the cloud as they drop into the slower breeze below them if there is a strong wind at cloud level. Virga can be observed trailing from the base of clouds worldwide, though it is most frequent in hot, dry climates.
Virga is a transitional sign: the weather is perfect for rain, but there isn’t quite enough water in the atmosphere yet. Virga, like so many other weather indications, is best for spotting a pattern. Following heavy rain, Virga is prevalent and indicates that things are getting better; after clear sky, it shows that rain is on the way.
The rain following the parent cloud reminds me of cartoon ghosts floating above the earth with their lower bodies following behind them. This, along with the fact that virga clouds may rain and not rain, has led me to believe that they are rain ghosts.