Clouds tell a daily weather story

A brief glance upward can speak volumes about daily forecast

By Khambrel Marshall - Meteorologist, 'Newsmakers' Host
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For as long as I can remember I've had a fascination about clouds.  You've probably been there too.  Except, in your case, it was probably just a phase.  Remember lying on your back, looking up at the sky and deciding what shapes the clouds represented?  Is that one a rabbit?  Hey, that one looks like a puppy!

The list was as long.  Our imaginations were large!  When we were children, none of what we saw in the clouds had anything to do with the weather.

Now I can't separate the two.

This is what the sky looked like early last week when the air was very dry and and the breeze blew in from the northwest.  A northwest wind is always a drier flow of air than what we see when the breeze is from the Gulf.

When I came outside on Tuesday I could tell we were in for a more humid day just by looking at the clouds.  More clouds and more humid air does not mean rain, though.   Many more elements must come into play before that happens.  But, seeing more clouds IS of the tale tell signs.  The picture below is what I mean.

By Thursday morning, a southeast wind had picked up and Gulf moisture was pumping into the region full-force, giving us overcast conditions.  The abundant Gulf moisture is one of the ingredients needed for heavy rain.  The other ingredient needed for rain is atmospheric instability in the form of rising air, or lift, as meteorologist refer to it.  An upper level low pressure system sagging into Texas from the northwest was about to provide that lift. The picture below was taken outside the River Oaks Country Club Thursday morning, May 9th. On that gray, overcast day the combination of high atmospheric moisture and instability, or lift, combined to produce several inches of rain in parts of the region.

Even without seeing one of our stellar and almost always accurate weather forecasts, you can be much more aware of what your weather will likely be simply by understanding what the clouds are telling you.  The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has a great website called "Cloud Classifications and Characteristics."  Click here to visit that site.

I wouldn't repeat that website's title to anyone, lest they think you're a weather geek.  But it's darned good and will get you well on your way to understanding much more about how clouds influence your life.  That is, beyond being able to discuss whether they're shaped like a rabbit or a duck!


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