Thursday, November 13, 2008

SKYWATCH FRIDAY – Buttermilk Sky (Lake Erie)


When I was a kid, my mother always called a sky like this a “buttermilk” sky. When I went to write this post, I decided to double check the name of the clouds and, in the process of checking, I found that some sites use the term “buttermilk sky” and “mackerel sky” interchangeably. My mother pointed out mackerel skies to me, too, but they were distinctly different from the buttermilk ones. I wondered how this current confusion could have happened. Maybe nobody remembers what either of them, the fish and the dairy product, actually looks like. That could be because of the fast food way we eat these days. Buttermilk and mackerel just aren’t at the top of most people’s shopping lists anymore (if they ever were!) Anyway, it looks like buttermilk skies, and the mackerel ones, too, are made up of either cirrocumulus or altocumulus clouds. These types of high-altitude clouds (along with the ones called “mare’s tails”) are my favorites.


Here is some real buttermilk for comparison (click to enlarge to see the flecks)




And here’s a mackerel sky, and a real mackerel.










There, that should clear everything up! (except for maybe the clouds themselves)








For more beautiful skies from around the world,
visit SKYWATCH

Mackerel sky photo at http://www.windows.ucar.edu/earth/Atmosphere/images/cirrocumulus2_small.jpg
Mackerel fish photo at http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/nof/fish/images/mackerel_large.jpg
Buttermilk photo at http://www.bigoven.com/157618-Homemade-Buttermilk-recipe.html

49 comments:

Migs CFL fan said...

Wow that is a fantastic pic. Thanks for sharing!

Cheers!
Regina In Pictures

the7msn said...

I grew up on the wrong side of Lake Erie (Cleveland). It never looked this good. We had a mackerel sky in New Mexico last night, but I didn't know it at the time. Thanks for the lesson!

bobbie said...

I call that one a cotton ball sky, and combined with the shining water,
it makes a very pretty picture.

mirage2g said...

Haha, yes they do resemble buttermilk and the other mackerel beacus of the patterns! What beautiful patterns with very interesting anecdote. Happy SWF!

ilanadavita said...

Great shots. Happy SWF!

Yen said...

Cotton clouds! Amazing captures!:)
Mine is, HERE.

Picturing of Life said...

lovely sky shots

My SWF post this week : in HERE or HERE. I hope you have time to visit. Thanks

Your EG Tour Guide said...

Thanks for clearing that up! Great post. Happy Sky Watch!

Dianne said...

absolutely a difference between the 2 skies. I'm so pleased to know what to call them :)

great photos

Robin said...

Beautiful skies. I enjoyed the lesson on the difference between a buttermilk sky and a mackerel sky.

Som Mine Dager Er, said...

Nice words for the clouds in the sky. I love the mackerel clouds the most. I think ... ;-)

Have a nice sky watch.

Marti

Aleta said...

How absolutely neat! I didn't know the different names to skies. I love this!

Kallen305 said...

What great pictures. I like the mackerel sky clouds the best too.

Rose said...

I don't have a sky watch but thought I would see what you put up...I had never heard either term for this kind of sky till I starting enjoying sky watch...I like your examples. Seems like we don't get either one too often....

Kathiesbirds said...

Thanks for clearing that up. I have never heard the sky compared to buttermilk before but I have to say, I like it. I definately see the difference and the photos of the mackrel sky and the mackrel show it perfectly!

Shellmo said...

I love that "buttermilk" description of the sky - perfect! Also like how the water is sparkling in the 1st photo.

Mary said...

Wow, thanks for the lesson. I can really see the difference now. Lovely photos! Happy SWF. :)

Sylvia K said...

Buttermilk or mackeral, they are beautiful photos! and I love the water! Thank you!

Geoff said...

Great pictures, and interesting explanation of the Mackerel and Buttermilk comparisons. Good photos!

Darla said...

that was very interesting, informative and entertaing. Love it.

Jim said...

Oh please, Deborah, I hope you can leave a comment on my blog! I don't want on that list of can'ts. ;-)
I like your buttermilk Lake Erie sky. I had heard the term but didn't know what one looked like. Thank you.

Happy SkyWatch, I'm doing it again this week (Little Photo Place). Not nearly as pretty as your buttermild sky but I did find sky--not one cloud here in Texas, just a big blue sky.
:-)
..

Bradley Myers said...

I do see the mackerel after looking at your photos, good sky watch.

Quiet Paths said...

I can see the mackerel - fish bones sky. I have heard the buttermilk term as well but just never knew what it was. Thank you, these are wonderful sky catches.

Grammy said...

Great photo & amazing clouds. Happy SWF!

Lin said...

funny no one knows what buttermilk is. I like it but my husband doesn't so we never have it. Don't even know if it's sold in the store. Nice photos.

nina said...

Beautiful by any name.

Pagan Sphinx said...

Beautiful photos and fascinating blog entry on the meanings of buttermilk and mackerel skies. Very interesting concepts you wove into your Sky Watch.

Thank you for the nice comments on my SWF post, as well. :-)

Peace from Massachusetts

Lakshmi said...

Love the comparison..and the skies look stunning..when i was in school, we had studied the various forms of clouds and skies and I used to constantly keep looking at the skies to identify the clouds..maybe I shd do more of cloud gazing as well

magiceye said...

that was very interestingly beautiful!

Robert V. Sobczak said...

I've never heard of buttermilk skies ... I'll have to look more into that. I love those sorts of descriptions of meteorological phenomena though.

hitch writer said...

REally lovely !!!

Indrani said...

What a wonderful write up! Brought me back memories of my mother. Nice shots, the ones given for comparison too. :)

YourFireAnt said...

I remember hearing the two expressions, and knew the difference too. So, there's two of us.

;-)

FA

p.s. word verif.is Water.

Squirrel said...

Re: Apples in the Hudson Valley.

We still get jonathans and macs, but less and less...
I love the jons and macs, and always grab those--also the paula apples which are tart and juicy too.

The "popular " apples seem to be the romes and cortlands though.

Squirrel said...

my earlier sky comment got lost! dang!

fishing guy said...

Deborah: I must say that was one neat explanation. thanks for taking your time to show us these great skies.

Brit' Gal Sarah said...

Great photo's and I love the comparisons!LOL

Sandradb said...

Beautiful and original pictures indeed.

fourwindshaiga said...

Well, I learned something for sure. I had to go look to see if I had any buttermilk sky shots. I did, but mine looks more like what bobbie said, a cotton ball sky.

I really don't get the mackerel idea, am I missing something?

Wren said...

Great photos, great lesson, and great sense of humor.

Waves across the lake

me ann my camera said...

Your buttermilk skies remind me of my 'sheep's wool' naming of that same sort of sky. Mackerel skies I love, beautiful photos.

hitch writer said...

Many thanks for your comments...

Crappy b said...

Amazing shots! Too beautiful!

Kelly said...

What a wonderful post! Your photos are great and the descriptions and meanings are so interesting! I will now probably always call these clouds 'buttermilk' and 'mackerel' depending on their patterns! This was such a fascinating post and I'm always so glad to learn new things, especially things that I can use on a regular basis. Great Job!!

The Ridger, FCD said...

I love a buttermilk sky, and these are great photos.

SandyCarlson said...

Buttermillk, mackeral...Thanks for highlighting this and illustrating with such a beautiful sky! Gorgeous.

Dewdrop said...

I had never heard of a buttermilk sky!!! Awesome altocumulus sky!

Crafty Green Poet said...

I didn't know that was called a buttermilk sky, though of course it makes sense why.... I have always known the mackerel sky, I love both of them,

You make a good point about people possibly forgetting the names because of eating too much fast food,

Drix Drix said...

Great site. My Mother (like yours) also said, "Oh look, I just love a buttermilk sky."

We had one yesterday here in Oregon. I heard Mom's voice the moment I saw it. A bit of searching brought me to your site.
Update: I think it's called Buttermilk, because of the way the side of the glass looks after you drank some. Globby and Buttermilkie."

Here's an image that shows it.
http://www.momzoolife.com/wp-content/uploads/images/IMG_9621.JPG