Thursday, August 29, 2013

Colorado Cloud Atlas: Big Sky Country!

Montana is often referred to as Big Sky Country.
But I think that Colorado gives Montana
a run for its money when it comes to big sky!

Every day in Colorado is a glorious free show.
All you have to do is look up.

Big Sky Country, Colorado Style

Last Friday as I walked to Parkway Bar and Grill
for the Ever~Patient's and my Friday Night Date Night,
I was treated to some spectacular clouds.


I often see altocumulus-castellanus clouds on sunny days.  
They can portend thunderstorms later in the day.
These clouds have turreted or tower-like projections 
that billow up from the base of the clouds, 
and they can be very beautiful.  

Most clouds form in the troposphere, 
the lowest part of Earth's atmosphere.
Altocumulus-castellanus clouds are mid-level clouds 
that occur at 6,500 - 20,000 feet or 2,000 - 6,000 meters.
Source:  Wikipedia 

Cumulus Congestus

Sure enough, as I walked to where I could see toward the west,
the altocumulus-castellanus clouds
quickly graded into cumulus congestus clouds.

These clouds, also known as towering cumulus,
are found in the mid-level of the troposphere.
Their tops look like cauliflower,
and they can produce light rain.
Source: windows2universe  

Cumulus Congestus

Talk about cauliflower in the sky!
A cloud like this makes me walk very fast!

Cauliflower in the Sky!

I made it to Parkway safe and dry ~
No big, billowing cumulonimbus showed up this time.

Late Monday afternoon,
it was a story with a different ending.

Cumulonimbus clouds rolled in, 
the skies opened up,
lightning flashed,
and thunder exploded.

Classic Cumulonimbus Cloud
Taken from Our Deck in August 2009

Cumulonimbus clouds 
are very tall and very large clouds.
They can extend throughout the troposphere 
from 6,500 - 60,000 feet or 2,000 - 16,000 meters.
Source:  Wikipedia

Cumulonimbus clouds are often found
together with low-level cumulus clouds.
Cumulus clouds develop 
below cumulonimbus clouds
at an altitude of less than 
6,500 feet or 2,000 meters.
Source:  Wikipedia

Do you know that in Colorado we have a monsoon?
Our monsoon is part of the annual monsoon that occurs
in the southwestern USA and northwestern Mexico.

Our monsoon typically begins in mid-July
and lasts until the end of August.

A shift in winds to the south
results in more moisture moving into Colorado
from the Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico.

It doesn't rain every day, 
but rain takes place in a pattern of bursts and breaks.
Source:  NOAA

When we get a monsoon rainstorm,
it can be violent with heavy rainfall,
strong thunder and lightning, 
and sometimes shredding hail.

Flash floods can ravage the landscape,
especially in areas that have recently burned.

 Manitou Springs, Flash Flood, August 2013

Usually the biggest excitement 
during the monsoon rains 
is golfers fleeing the golf course.

Sometimes rain can pound down
when blue sky is close by.
Sometimes it can be raining 
on one side of our house
and not on the other!

Rain in the Distance,
No Rain Here,
Rain on the Backside of Our House (above)

And some days, like on Monday,
something special, almost magical,

I wish my camera could capture 
the beauty of our Colorado rainbows! 

Big Sky Country ~ Colorado style is spectacular!
And so are unexpected rainbows in your life!

An Unexpected Rainbow on My Grocery List!

This song, like a rainbow, can brighten any day:

US3 ~ Cantaloop
Source:  YouTube emimusic


  1. That one taken from your deck is a rare sight for me
    Never seen one like that near our sea
    Sky country indeed
    With rainbows so you can steal a leprechauns pot of gold and share with my feed haha

    1. Hi Pat! Nearly every time I see a rainbow heading for the ground I think of leprechauns and a big pot of gold. The jackpot looks so close! It looks so easy! I am waiting for my Amazon order to come (found the missing gift card in a "safe place" which I had forgotten!). I ordered copies of Bug in the Rug and Catality (My reality needs saving! LOL!). Hope I don't run into cumulonimbus clouds boiling up tonight when I head to happy hour! Have a great weekend!

  2. Oh, I saw a double rainbow in Denver once, it was beautiful!
    My sister got married there in August of 1996, now that I have read your blog, I see it was lucky it didn't rain on her, she got married outside at Devil's Thumb Ranch!

    1. Hi Kay!
      Somewhere in the 30,000 photos on my computer I have a much better photo of a double rainbow than the one I took Monday! When I find it, I'll post it. Denver has the most spectacular rainbows, and sometimes they are so bright that they are hard to look at! I'm glad your sister got married during one of the monsoon "breaks."

      There were times when I was teaching in August that we teachers had to go out and pull up kids that had been flattened to the ground by a sudden downpour of rain! A few incidents like that, and we actually started holding them in school after the end of the day when it looked like the rain would be trouble.

      We got married on Sept. 1st, 1984, and while we were at the church, a sudden thunderstorm flatted our "pavilion" (more of a tent ~ it was a small wedding) out back of Terry's house. Our caterers dragged it into the garage and set up everything in the house. Fortunately we opted for the longer, full communion service! By the time we got home, there was no sign of clouds or flattened tent, and everything went well. Now I have to google Devil's Thumb Ranch!

      Have a happy weekend!

  3. Aaaahhhhh, that is one of my FAVORITE songs. Good choice, Louise! I loved your rainbow photos.....they're so beautiful. I had no idea about the annual monsoon....!!!

    1. Hi Audrey ~ That is one of my favorite songs too! I can't sit still when I hear it! Chair dancing right now! LOL Thank you for the kind words about my rainbow pics! I wish I could find a spot where I could snap from horizon to horizon! I love the afternoon thunderstorms because they cut the heat! It's been a crazy week ~ I hope to catch up on blog posts after crazy today. Hope you, Alain, and the girls have a great weekend! It's a long weekend!!!!! Yeah!

  4. Every rainbow is "an event" -- love them!

    1. Rainbows are awesome, Debra! When I see one, I stop everything and watch it! Have a happy weekend with your Rare One!

  5. Hi Louise, It is Barb - it never ceases to amaze me how similar (yet different) Alberta and Colorado are! I will never forget my first hail storm in Calgary - I crawled into the bushes trying to escape - LOL. I loved your rainbows :)

    Have a wonderful Labour Day Weekend! My new backyard is finally getting plants and grass - I am so excited - ha, ha

  6. Hey Barb!!!!! Aren't you leaving for Scotland soon? Wish I were going with you! :( I'll try to remember to call you tonight ~ endless my merlot hits me hard at Parkway! I'll be walking over there in the HOT! HOT! HOT! I plan to have a great Labor Day Weekend. Good luck with the new yard. Has Smoke been wrangling any worms lately? LOL

    1. 5 more sleeps until Scotland - 6 sleeps until my whisky tour - lol - I WISH YOU WERE COMING WITH US :(

  7. YOU got that right, my fingers are dancing on the keyboard, LOVE this video and beat!!! How did you come by it? Needs to be on my FB page ~~ needs to be spread A-R-O-U-N-D oh yah baby (Austin Powers speak) !

    Those clouds would have me all wrapped up and I'd never get any where. Just staring at them all the time, along with the Colorado Blue sky colour!!

    That torrential rain and disaster looks mighty scary, glad the season is over, ours is just starting!

    Thanks for the clouds and all the details about them and oh yah, the RAINBOW!!!


    1. Hey Ronnie! Just got back from happy hour at Parkway! I so love Friday night!!! I learned about US3 in the spinning class I used to go to about 10 years ago. 5:30 a.m. ~ and our instructor would play this ~ Marty loved jazz! He would lead the most amazing spinning class ~ brutal!!! I've loved this song from the first time I heard it. Sure wish they had spinning bikes at HEB! I DO spend a lot of time looking at the sky! How could I not! This has been a nuts week!!! Now you know why I live on top of a hill! Have a good weekend, my friend! I'll be catching up on everything tomorrow! Hugs to you all!

  8. I have learned a few things here Louise, as I usually do from you. Thanks for the info and energy you put into these these posts. You are such a good teacher!!
    Your camera is doing a good job capturing these clouds and rainbows. You are correct, can't beat Colorado skies!
    have a great long weekend!

    1. You have a great weekend too, Jimbo! I just got back from a great Friday Night Date Night. Poor E-P! My friend Julie (occupational therapist from Sunrise) was there, and we had a great gabfest! Good thing I walked over, and Terry drove me home! I don't think I ate enough today! Too busy! Two itsy-bitsy glasses of wine have hit hard! But I see the light at the end of the tunnel after a crazy week! Looking forward to your Saturday morning post! Have an awesome weekend! Rainbows to you! :)

  9. Oh my- such amazing photo if clouds--- I'm a cloud lover too so this is really exciting! Wonderful photography-- and the rainbows are gorgeous!!!


    1. Thanks so much Vicki! How can anyone not love clouds and rainbows? Have a great week!

  10. Wow!I really like this posting!I had no idea clouds have names!Impressive to read that you have a monsoon season.I'm not a fan of rain, so I'm guessing I wouldn't be happu about it. Your photos are amazing, especially the rainbow ones and the ones where rain can be seen in the background.

    1. Thanks RF! I've been trying to learn to identify clouds and remember their names ~ especially here in Colorado where we have amazing skies! I like the rain in Colorado because it is usually over in a short while ~ not like in the Atlantic provinces where rain can last all day! I hope you got off to a good start back at school today! Take care!


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