Mares' Tails

A weekend of sailing has just passed, one that was full of meteorological kindness.

Nature was generous in two ways over the weekend - perhaps as a reward for my having set up a page of weather lore?

Firstly, blue skies, fair winds and warm sun ruled over the Solent. Secondly, an approaching warm front signalled its intent, in line with meteorological science and common folklore, by sending a team of mares' tails ahead. These cirrus clouds would be followed by cirrostratus, altostratus and then the rain-bearing nimbostratus. A show was being promised, and then put on.

Our good fortune continued on Sunday, when we were given a ringside seat to watch the nimbostratus, but never had to get too close. The dark grey clouds advanced slowly and pressed down to the west of us. The rain fell barely a mile from our small Contessa 32, but by the the time it threatened to engulf us we had ducked back into Chichester harbour, moored at Chichester marina and were sheltering our sunburnt and windburnt features.

It is the perfect time of year for witnessing the cloud and weather changes that advancing fronts bring. As the line between cold and warm air retreats south with the sun, the once-dominant fair weather is being bullied from our skies by frontal systems with increasing regularity and the contrast between the two states is never clearer.

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