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Digital Subscriptions > Cottage Life > Fall 2016 > Waterfront

Waterfront

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Want to know what weather’s on the horizon? Use our easy expert cloudreading tips >>

Nimbostratus
Cirrus
Cumulus

>> SEND IN THE CLOUDS

“Cottagers probably spend more time than the average person looking at their sky,” says Geoff Coulson, a warning preparedness meteorologist with Environment Canada.

And chances are, you’ll be looking at clouds, in one form or another, to suggest what weather might make or break your day.

Wispy cirrus clouds, floating six km up, are a good bet for sunny boating, as long as they remain scattered and sheer.

If they begin to thicken, they could be a harbinger of a larger system bringing rain that day or the next. “Keep an eye on the western horizon,” advises Coulson. “A lot of our weather systems come from the west and move east.” Airplane contrails offer another clue: if these streams of condensation linger or spread out, it signals the upper atmosphere is moist and unsettled weather may be coming; if they dissipate quickly (soon after the plane is gone from sight), it means upper conditions are dry and your picnic is a go.

Not so with nimbostratus, a low, grey blanket of cloud covering the sky: count on several hours of steady rain and pull out the Monopoly. Cumulus clouds, scallopedged puffballs, can be a picturesque backdrop for a barbecue or, in as little as a half-hour, mushroom into ominous cumulonimbus clouds in unstable conditions, says Peter Kimbell, also a warning preparedness meteorologist with Environment Canada. CB clouds have a flat, anvil-like top and promise lightning, thunder, and party-pooping downpours. Stay inside for 30 minutes after you hear the last rumble, cautions Coulson.

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You can do it! A Guide to Cottage DIY. How to live with wasps. Easy pulled pork recipes. Why do animals have whiskers? Wood that lasts forever. Workshop secrets from the pros. The new wave of woodstoves.
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