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2010-03-07 13:31:36.000 – Stacey Kawecki,  Observer and Meteorologist

color and light

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about my whirlwind romance with Mount Washington. In my studies, I found the subject of optics and light to be fascinating. There is no shortage of optical phenomena from the summit of Mount Washington. From my first mountain shadow to this morning’s sunrise, I am consistently amazed by the display of color and light.

Clouds are especially exciting, and not just because we’re in them so often. Clouds are nature’s forecasters. The type of clouds in the sky can tell the seasoned observer the state of the atmosphere. This comment isn’t about that. It’s about the fun part of clouds. A long, long time ago, an intern by the name of Ted Letcher (yup, I remember you!) wrote about nephelococcygia, which is the act of seeking and finding shapes in clouds. Popular shapes spotted from the summit consist of flying saucers (a result of common lenticular clouds), cotton balls (for the unimaginative), castles, dragons, fish…you name it, and we’ve probably seen a cloud that looks like it. Today we saw some of the coolest looking clouds, ever. Thankfully, Drew had enough sense to grab the camera.

It looked like a new, small mountain range had grown in a matter of seconds, complete with lenticular clouds spreading smoothly across the tops. Now we’re in the fog, which will last through the night as a weak cold front plunges south from Canada. Hopefully the clouds will lift from the mountain and provide a few more opportunities for us to practice nephelococcygia.

 

Stacey Kawecki,  Observer and Meteorologist

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