Reading in the dark - Request for photo description: anatomy of a thunderstorm
June 1st, 2012
11:42 am


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Request for photo description: anatomy of a thunderstorm
From the Earth and Sky June newsletter--I love thunderstorms! Also note: today is the first day of hurricane season for the Atlantic.

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(5 comments | Braille me)

[User Picture]
Date:June 1st, 2012 04:50 pm (UTC)
Background of the photo has a base of assorted fluffy white clouds. In the foreground, you can see the triangular metal wing of the plane.

The thunderstorm is in roughly three sections, arranged vertically. The bottom is a cone, like a volcanic mountain, of fluffy white cloud. About halfway up the 'mountain', it is obscured by the 'anvil' section, which is made of stringy white cirrus, and forms a sort of flattened, upside-down cone. Poking out over the top of the 'anvil' is large dome of fluffy white cloud over the center.
[User Picture]
Date:June 2nd, 2012 02:41 am (UTC)
I was trying to reply from my iPod, which insisted I wasn't logged in to LiveJournal, and therefor couldn't reply. So that wasn't working. Guess I can reply now, although the first description is really good, I'd like to give it a go.

Shot taken from the window of a plane, and the wing is in the lower right foreground. Very fluffy cumulo-nimbus clouds, greyish-white, form a base of the storm. In the center, they're pushed upward into a swirl of cirrus clouds, darker grey and quite smooth. Above this orbit of cirrus, an upper white puff of cumulus cloud sits in the center.

The picture is labeled with text in various spots: the cirrus clouds, which looks something like the rings of Saturn is labeled with the word anvil. The center where the cumulonimbus clouds have a bit of vertical movement, like an erupting volcano has an upward-pointing arrow and the word updraft. The puffy topping of cumulus cloud is labeled overshooting top.

To me, cumulus clouds look like the fluffs of whipped cream that spray out of a can. fleecy cirrus clouds look more like a piece of lace, sometimes with larger holes; this one is a much denser piece, almost like tulle.

Wow, that was a little too long. I think that is what I'd tell my daughter though, if she was interested. Since she's been blind her whole life, she'd enjoy a tactile reference to the descriptions of the cloud shapes, rather than just vague words like puffy.
[User Picture]
Date:June 2nd, 2012 12:15 pm (UTC)
Thank you for your description, that was great! You are right about the tactile slant on descriptions: I was sighted in one eye, low vision, until my early twenties, and an art student to boot, so I loved observing things like clouds, but some adjectives, like "puffy," do seem kind of vague to me. The lacey clouds you described--those are the ones which also look like pulled-out wisps of cotton candy, correct?

Another thing I find fascinating about description is the variety of details that different people focus on, so each description is like getting another piece of the puzzle.
[User Picture]
Date:June 2nd, 2012 05:01 pm (UTC)
I accept the challenge. I see there are other comments already; I'll try my own description before reading other people's, see if they match.

The photo is clearly taken from an airplane, but you probably know that much already. Looking down, we see a field of cumulus clouds; they make a continuous cover of soft, white fluffiness—like the proverbial cotton balls, but clumpier. In the center is one cloud rising up head and shoulders above the cotton clumps, much less fluffy and shaped rather like the mountain in the Paramount Pictures logo; this mountain is labeled "updraft," with a helpful arrow pointing up. Rising upward and outward from the midpoint of Mount Updraft is a cloud formation labeled "anvil," and I know that's the meteorological term for it, but in this picture it looks less like a solid anvil and more like a dog wearing the Cone of Shame; these clouds are much less white and fluffy than the field below, more wispy, grey, and smooth. The top of the anvil is flat (like an anvil), with another heap of cumulus clouds boiling up out of the top of it labelled "overshooting top". In the foreground is the airplane's wing, coming out of the lower-right corner of the picture and stabbing straight toward the center of Mount Updraft.

OK, that went on a bit longer than I expected. Hope it helps, especially by comparing and contrasting with other people's descriptions.
[User Picture]
Date:June 2nd, 2012 06:29 pm (UTC)
*lol* I like the "cone of shame" description! The Paramount mountain reminds me of the first described movie I went to: it was "Spiderman," and the very first bit of description was, "A woman in a toga holds a torch high..." and I thought, "There aren't any togas in 'Spiderman,'" but then I realized it was the Columbia Pictures logo a second before the descriptive track identified it.

I also liked your description because it gave me a better idea of where the plane was in the picture. Four stars!
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