Wonder if you saw it, this cloud mystery? First the pretty and the plain:
Now for that icy mystery yesterday afternoon:
Let us zoom in some more, see if we can find out something:
3:52 PM. Zoomed view of one of the little anomalous snowstorms going on at 25, 600 feet yesterday. If you click on this, you’ll see the tiny, delicate trails of ice falling out, ones that reflect a different set of circumstances for ice formation and growth that were present in that little cloud, seemingly so uniform, but not really if you were to fly through it with cloud instruments.
However, we have really learned nothing about why SO MUCH ice fell out of a couple of those clouds.
CMP will offer a hypothesis, one that cannot be verified and so he can’t be shown to be in error again:
I think this may have been due to an aircraft passage in that layer, probably more than an hour ago. Hypothesizing, it passed through some of the cloudlets and iced them up real good (that is caused ice to form due to its passage through it, not icing on the wings kind of thing, though that may be a part of the reason ice crystals form. We’re not really sure what causes an aircraft to produce icy holes in clouds or ice canals.
However, in the longer term when an aircraft causes a hole or ice canal, if the layer is sliding upward, the hole or canal fills back in with droplet clouds just like the one an aircraft glaciated. Takes a lot of time for that to happen, at least an hour since the upward slide in mid-level clouds is slight.
Another possible explanation to cover more bases, is that a very few of these now flat clouds once had turrets that stuck up to lower temperatures. Only slightly cooler temperatures from -22 °C might have triggered what was clearly an explosion of ice. But given the stable layer at the top of these clouds, that seems a less likely possibility to me.
Another thing we have learned today among the things we have not learned, is that clouds, especially mid-level ones, can be damn cold without having any ice falling out of them, and that ice falling out of them might even be an inexplicable anomaly! Doesn’t really happen with clouds in the “boundary layer”, that is clouds formed from ground heating, and/or connected to dirt and stuff through turbulence. Too many chances for ice nuclei to get in them and most are dirt particles like kaolinite.
1When you’re speaking to friends, and to sound more pilot-like, more accurate in your cloud height assessments, its best if you say heights as at, “one-six thousand, one-niner thousand, two-five thousand”, etc. As in, “I think those Altocumulus clouds are at one-eight thousand” as an example.
I really think if you talk like that to your friends when discussing cloud heights you’ll see a little bump of credibility for you.
2Its really OK to admit error, to be humbled once in awhile, get your feet back on the ground, not think of yourself as something special like you do. In this regard, I have linked to an exemplary example of a media weather forecaster that was acknowledged a major error in a prior temperature forecast for SEA, but at the same time called out the correct elements of his/her forecast to blunt the fallout from the temperature error. Perhaps, realizing, too, that he/she/transginger, was using too fine a forecast “brush”, learns from that and ends with a broader one: An errorful forecast acknowledged: