by Bill Danielson

Everyone talks about the weather around Cape Breton. For that matter everyone talks about the weather everywhere. So why not a well written, easy to understand weather book replete with beautiful photos, graphs and diagrams to illustrate the science behind It all. The author, a retired meteorology professor, lives part time in Smelt Brook not far past Neil’s Harbour in northern Cape Breton and focuses many of his examples of weather phenomenon from that area but these examples are just as applicable for weather watchers from almost anywhere.

The chapters describe weather by the four seasons, cloud types, rain, snow and wind events, sunrises and sunsets, rainbows and other visual treats. Ever wonder why the sky is deep blue higher up but lighter at the horizon. Well that’s Rayleigh scattering of blue and violet light waves by air molecules. Since they scatter easier than other colours the sky is blue and because the air is thicker at the horizon, there’s less scattering and all the colours mixed together look white.

For years I’ve puzzled over what causes those big blasts of wind that come at night, blow through Ingonish rattling homes and trees for a few minutes, then quickly die off. These are katabatic winds which form at night over the highlands as air cools under clear skies. The denser cool air sinks into low lying areas until it overflows, rushes downhill through the many valleys and spills out on the coastal areas making “trees moan and leaves fly past.” This amazing event only happens if the topography of an area matches the local weather conditions to produce such nocturnal gusty outbursts.

This book has numerous elusive sightings like the green horizon flash at sunrise, or the heiligenschein, a halo of light around your head viewed only by shadow in the morning after a clear night when dew drops remain liquid on grass blades. Now that’s weather knowledge.

Local lore, pictures of folks enjoying the weather and Danielson’s witty writing style make this an engaging, interesting, practical and fun book for naturally curious people, and especially teachers, park interpreters and anyone who wants to become more familiar with the weather.

– review by Paul MacDougall –

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