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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Mare's Tails Over West Carolina


This is just one of the many Mare's Tails I saw in the sky today.

Mare's Tails, or Fallstreaks, are formed by ice crystal falling from a cirrus cloud formation and blown away by wind that varies in speed at different altitudes, leading to some spectacular shapes in the sky.

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My grandmother used to say, "Mackerel scales and mare’s tails, make lofty ships carry low sails." It meant that a storm was approaching, and in the olden days, it was a mnemonic used by sailors to aid in weather forecasting in a way that they could remember. For sailing ships, it meant that the riggers had best start bringing the sails down so they wouldn't be torn off the ship in the coming storm. And I look to the National Weather Service to see that a storm is indeed in the forecast for the weekend. Luckily, it will only be rain this time.

Read more about the physics of Mare's Tails.



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