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Alltop, confirmation that I kick ass

Author: toni

~ 09/02/09


I’ve always been a believer in teaching by example. Not just through behavior, but also through the world around us. Since Julia was a baby, I would point out things and explain them. When we run across a word or object she’s not familiar with, I tell her what it means or what it is. I have found this to be a very effective way of getting new words and ideas and concepts across.

So you can imagine my JOY when, during the current wildfires that are ravaging my community and making breathing the air akin to snorting the contents of an ashtray in a Phillip Morris testing room, I looked up in the sky the other day and saw this: 


Ah. another opportunity to teach by showing. Except. I wasn’t sure what the heck it was.

Now in the past Julia and I have talked about the different kinds of clouds in the sky.  I have pointed them out: cumulus, stratus, cirrus, cirrocumulus, altostratus (okay, when I was a kid I dreamed of joining the NOAA).

But this was a new one even to me.

Turns out it’s called a PYROCUMULUS CLOUD. And if you’re good at breaking down words you can guess what kind of cloud this is. You know, PYRO coming from the Greek for FIRE, and all.

Apparently, a pyrocumulus cloud is produced by the intense heating of the air from the surface. The intense heat induces convection which causes the air mass to rise to a point of stability, usually in the presence of moisture. These can be caused by volcanoes, the detonation of a nuclear weapon (i.e., the mushroom cloud) or as in this case…


So as Julia and I cough and wheeze through the smoke and ash that surrounds us, I am happy to report that Julia has added one more word to her ever-expanding vocabulary. PYROCUMULUS.

How’s that for a silver lining?

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