A blog post introducing 'What's This Cloud'

Today, I’m excited to introduce a project I’ve begun working on the last several months: What’s This Cloud. It’s a website, supported by several social media accounts, that is dedicated to helping everyday weather hobbyists, cloud enthusiasts, and sky watchers of all ages learn to identify and classify all different types of clouds. And to share the love of clouds in general. ⛅

Below, you’ll be introduced to myself and my fascination with clouds, how this project started, and what you might expect further down the road from us.

A Weather-obsessed, Cloud-loving Lad

Hello. I’m Greg. ? Since as long as I could remember, I’ve always had a fascination with weather. In elementary school, when a thunderstorm would roll through our neck of the woods, out would come my parent’s JVC GR-C1 camcorder. I would shove it out my bedroom window, hoping to be at the right place at the right time to catch a lightning bolt striking something in the vicinity of where I was filming.

At the end of the day though, I’ve always been just a guy that really (really) likes weather. I don’t have a formal education in meteorology. When deciding between majors in school, I chose to study business management over earth and atmospheric sciences. But that has never stopped my passion for weather.

In 2011, I moved to beautiful Boulder, CO from Atlanta, GA. Upon arriving from the east coast, it didn’t take long to see that the weather here was… different. I became familiar with terms like lenticular cloud and chinook winds. I found myself spending more and more of my afternoon breaks on the top of the nearby five-story parking deck, watching the sky filled with different cloud formations. Formations that would be hard to come by on the east coast.

It was only a few short years after moving here that I realized eastern Colorado was on the western edge of tornado alley. In 2014, armed with an iPhone 5S and a dash cam, I went on my first storm chase. While I only got a small taste that day, I was hooked.

An Introduction to Cloud Identification

After my first chase, I started gathering any informational resource that was available relating to weather, particularly severe weather, to better prepare for future storm chases. It was around this time I got a GoPro HERO4 action cam. I quickly discovered time-lapse mode, and realized if you pointed the camera up for an hour, recorded cloud formations, and watched the video afterwards, you could watch the sky come alive. It was enthralling.

It was around this time when I read in a book that “altocumulus castellanus clouds in the vicinity were a sign of instability”.

“Huh… altocumulus castellanus” I thought. ? I had unknowingly stumbled into the subject of cloud classifications. I knew that there were 10 different types of clouds, but wasn’t aware clouds had species, varieties, and features. Fascinated, I dove in head first.

There are a handful of books on the subject of cloud identification. I bought them all. But a fair bit of the material that I came across was either outdated or written from the point of view of a meteorologist, making it difficult to understand. But I managed around it. And little by little, I slowly become more proficient at cloud classification.

To help my obsession, I created spreadsheets to organize different cloud types. Flash cards were created to help study clouds. I started creating graphics that allowed me to better visualize the difference between cloud types and species. I got more into the local weather scene in Boulder, taking a SKYWARN storm spotting class. And I opened up a weather-related Twitter and Instagram accounts (@thecoloradosky) as an outlet for my passion for weather and clouds. I was neck deep in clouds and weather, and loving it.

The Start of a Cloud Computing Company

Last year, I left the Boulder-based business I was working for. It was a company I had started with some college friends. We worked hard for those 7 years, and admittedly, I was burnt out when I left. I wanted to take some time off and give myself some time to think about what’s next, and moved back to the east coast.

Over the past several months though, I kept coming back to my love and fascination of weather, and in particular, clouds. To keep my design skills fresh, I took it upon to create a few cloud graphics and cloud identification charts. I created a few items out of a personal need to better help with my cloud identification obsession and thought “hmm… I wonder if anyone else would find use out of what I’m creating”.

That was a few months ago, and that’s how What’s This Cloud was born. It’s now May of 2018 and I’m finally excited to show the world what we’ve been working on.

What’s This Cloud: To Infinity and Beyond ?

As of today, our website is mainly dedicated to the 10 main cloud types, but will be expanded upon over time. You can expect for What’s This Cloud to bring the hobby of weather to the everyday individual through great design, engagement, and community. That’s the primary goal.

The website will be supported with content relating to cloud identification and weather. It’ll also be social media supported through Twitter and Instagram. We’ll also dive into Reddit and Flickr to share our love and passion of clouds in the upcoming months.

But this is just the start and there’s more to come on the horizon. If you have any questions, comments, or just want to share your excitement, your messages will be received with open arms. Please don’t hesitate to message us on Twitter or Instagram or alternatively, shoot me an email at greg@whatsthiscloud.com. I’d love to hear from you and talk weather.

Looking forward to sharing our mutual love and passion of clouds and weather with you. ⛅