We probably all remember learning about the water cycle at school. How water would evaporate, how it would be then form clouds, rain down on us on the hills and flow down rivers to the sea.
We have all seen clouds, rain, rivers and sea but it is only recently that I have watched clouds forming in any volume. I have seen a blue sky suddenly get whispy clouds that get bigger and bigger until clouds fill the whole sky. But the other weekend I was up on Baildon Moor near Glovershaw when I saw clouds being formed in, for me, a different way. It fits with what I learnt at school but had simply not noticed.
I had gone out (reasonably early for a weekend, hence the sunlight on the wind turbines) and was watching Lapwing, Golden Plover and Starlings The wind was freezing cold so I kept sheltering behind a stone wall. There was quite a lot of cloud cover but occasionally a bright sun shone through a gap for a few seconds. Looking West I could see the edge of the clouds and thought that with the strong wind I would soon have clear sky above with bright sunshine. I crouched down behind the wall again and watched a Curlew fly back and forth a couple of times across parts of the golf course. A horse and rider made quite a good silhouette on the skyline. I was looking forward to feeling the sun on me in a few minutes.
Looking over the wall again I got some more photos of the birds. I could see the grey and white cloud bank being pushed over my head very quickly by the wind. In the distance I could see lovely blue sky. But still, at about 45 degrees, there was the edge of the clouds, still there, unmoving. With the speed that the clouds were moving I should have been in bright sunshine.
I looked at the edge of the clouds through my binoculars and could see them moving fast towards the East but the edge was not moving. It was as if some invisible pipe was leaking along its length and spraying out the clouds.
As I said, we all know about how clouds are formed, but this is the first time I have actually stopped and watched it happening in such volume and with such a noticeable stationary edge. These clouds were being formed already wind-swept and rushing across the sky.