STOP PRESS | Blue for as far as the eye can see

Red Sky at Night: Clouds can tell you whether it’s going to rain or not if you can identify what they mean.
Red Sky at Night: Clouds can tell you whether it’s going to rain or not if you can identify what they mean.

We’ve been having a long run of clear blue skies for weeks on end but some days if there’s clouds around you can see all sorts of things like faces or images of people or animals. 

But of more concern now is to look to the clouds for an indication of any rain we desperately need to break the devastating drought and you can do that if you know what they mean.

Cirrus is a high cloud with white tufts made from ice crystals but it means no rain.

Cirrocumulus, another high cloud with small ripples, and Cirrostratus, also a high cloud that looks like a transparent veil often creating a halo effect, won’t bring rain. 

Altocumulus is a middle cloud, white and rippled with dark shading, and it could mean possible light showers while Altostratus, a middle cloud that looks like a grey sheet that allows the sun to appear as if through glass could mean rain or snow.

You could expect some drizzle from Stratocumulus, a low cloud that looks like a series of white rolls, and Stratus, also a grey low cloud. 

Cumulus are low clouds that appear as separate vertical rolls or towers and they could also bring rain showers.

The one we want to see is Nimbostratus, a thicker and darker low cloud that could result in heavy rain or snow.

So now you can look skyward to see what’s in store. 

The morning glory

Talking about clouds, there’s a famous long, tube-like cloud, called Morning Glory, that we can’t see in Orange but it’s a tourism boom at Burketown, an outback community of 173 in the Gulf of Carpentaria, and it appears this time of the year for two months just after dawn.

It’s been described as the most spectacular thing in the sky but few people know it exists other than tourists and enthusiastic glider pilots who flock to Burketown to see the rare cloud that can stretch up to 1,000km long, 100m wide and can race across the sky up to 60 kmh. 

Local weather lore in the area says that when the fridges frost over and the corners of the cafe tables in the Burketown pub turn up, there’s enough moisture in the air for the clouds to form and when they go over, there’s no wind.

Burketown even holds a Morning Glory Festival in September to celebrate the unique phenomenon while Gangalidda traditional owner Murrandoo Yanner says the Morning Glory was created by Rainbow Serpent Walalu and is of great cultural significance.

Pointing north

It’s probably too late now but in a lasting link to Banjo Paterson we should still try to have Paterson adopted as the name for north Orange.

The new suburb needs a proper name before the word ‘north’ becomes totally set in concrete for the area that’s growing like Topsy with hundreds of new homes. 

The Geographical Names Board doesn’t favour the use of the four points of the compass, north, south, east and west, so ‘north’ should be given the flick despite being used by Woolworths, McDonalds and other shops there.

If Paterson doesn’t suit the board, another fit is Templer, Banjo Paterson’s great uncle who owned Narrambla where he was born.

If that fails, what’s wrong with Narrambla?

And while we’re at it, let’s call our hospital a hospital.