I’ve never seen such beautiful and mercurial clouds. On an average day, cumulus clouds start to develop in the mid-morning. During the afternoon and early evening, these cumulus clouds often develop into spectacular cumulonimbus (thunderstorm) clouds. These clouds then diminish and begin to flatten into layers by dusk, and slowly disperse during the night.
My favorite clouds—yes, I have a “favorite”—are cumulus congestus, or towering cumulus, clouds. From a distance, they have the appearance of gigantic inflatable creatures; their crisp, voluminous shapes swell into the middle atmosphere. Cumulus congestus clouds develop from smaller cumulus clouds when the atmospheric conditions are unstable, which encourages a rising column of warm, moist air at the centre of the cloud to keep lifting higher and higher. Such unchecked convection makes these clouds swell to formidable proportions. (Once these clouds grow tall enough, the tops of the clouds begin to glaciate, their droplets freezing into ice crystals, and the crisp, sharp edges of their summits soften and become more blurred. This is the point at which these clouds have officially turned into a cumulonimbus storm clouds.)
Cloud watching and nephelococcygia, the act of seeking and finding shapes in clouds, is such a meditative pursuit. I highly recommend it.