Thursday, 27 January 2011

Curse of the Flat Cloud

Originally posted on Multiply January 6 2010

It was supposedly a sunny day in Southern B.C. today. A Facebook acquaintance from Revelstoke, another town along the Columbia 100 km to the North, reported brilliant sunshine.

Alas, here in Nakusp the dreaded Flat Cloud reigned supreme for most of the day. The official name for this weather phenomenon is Valley Cloud or Valley Fog. It is a narrow band of cloud that forms over the lakes in between the mountains. It comes with inversion: cold air is trapped below, it is warmer above. It is fun to drive a logging road to get above it. First you drive into the fog, then through it, then you emerge into brilliant warm sunshine. Looking down upon it is like flying above clouds.

But most of the times our little lives take place below it. The view from my living room window is supposed to look like this:
On a Flat Cloud day it looks like this. The cloud band hangs well below the mountain tops. It feels like being in a pan with the lid on top.
Nakusp is the Flat Cloud Capital of the Southern Interior. High pressure ridges in fall and winter eventually bring inversion to all the valleys, but we get it sooner and it lasts longer. When we first lived here, after 4 years in the sunnier climes of Christina Lake, I was totally obsessed by it. We knew by the vegetation that this valley was wetter than the Boundary region, but we had not counted on low cloud during those lovely Indian Summer weeks in September and October, when time stands still and all is blue and golden. Honest rain is one thing, spoiled good weather something else.

It used to drive me nuts. In the early tipi years, when I worked in a local restaurant, I would question anyone who had been out of town. "Did the sun shine in Kaslo today? New Denver? Hills? Fauquier, Burton?" If the answer was no, it was foggy all over, I'd be at peace. But on the many occasions when I heard that the clammy grey cold was limited to our neck of the woods I'd get all depressed. IF we had known about this micro-climate quirk I would not have settled here. Since the land was perfect otherwise it is just as well we didn't know.
Today the clouds parted just long enough to show a few glimpses of light.

I used the opportunity to walk my little loop on the land again. Not exactly a hike, but at least I was outside for most of an hour.

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