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GRANDMA SAYS: Washboard Sky?  Be quick to hang your wash to dry!

Sunday was quite lovely in Sydney Mines Cape Breton. Rosemary Woods was out enjoying the May sun when she noticed this perplexing pattern in the sky.  She was king enough to share it with those of us who were not treated to the beautiful blanket of clouds.
Sunday was quite lovely in Sydney Mines Cape Breton. Rosemary Woods was out enjoying the May sun when she noticed this perplexing pattern in the sky. She was king enough to share it with those of us who were not treated to the beautiful blanket of clouds. - Contributed

Despite the weather, it was a busy weekend in garden centres and on the roads all across Atlantic Canada.   

Meighan MacLean was driving on the West Mabou road in Cape Breton Sunday evening when she couldn’t help but notice the ceiling of clouds overhead.  She thought the clouds were cool and posted the photo on my Facebook page.  Soon after, I started to see very similar photos all over social media. 

These “cool” clouds that were spotted from Sydney Mines to Mabou, Cape Breton have a name and nickname, too.  Technically, they are altocumulus clouds.  The name comes from the Latin Altus meaning “high” + Cumulus meaning “heaped.” 

Altocumulus clouds are midlevel clouds found anywhere from two to seven km above the ground.  They often display visible rows or ripples of white that alternate with blue sky.  Of all the 10 different cloud types, altocumulus clouds are the most diverse in terms of appearance.  These clouds are commonly found between weather systems and are a sign of approaching instability in the atmosphere.   

Less formally, that layer of cloud is known as a “washboard sky,” and what’s a special sky without a rhyme?   

Grandma Says: “Washboard sky – not three days dry.”  

Sure enough, the welcome rays of May sun that broke through the clouds and warmed the fertile soil of Cape Breton on Sunday, were replaced by liquid sunshine by Monday afternoon.    

Grandma comes through again!  



Cindy Day is the chief meteorologist for SaltWire Network.

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