Friday, July 26, 2013

Katabatic Cold Front

A katabatic cold front is an inactive cold front. The winds in the warm air above the wedge of advancing colder air were actually subsiding instead of rising. This meant that only a handful of rain drops reached the ground instead of the predicted deluge. The sky is a book just waiting to be read. The approximations used in the computer model simulations of the atmosphere can lead to really poor forecasts just when you rely on them the most.

The winds were northwesterly aloft above the cool front and north-northwesterly winds within the cool air behind the surface cool front. Some of you might be thinking that this meteorology is too tough to understand. It is really just a fluid like in your morning coffee. The light northerly winds aloft were the only clue that a cold front was approaching. There were indeed scattered showers to the west along the north shore of Lake Ontario where the front received an added boost from the lake breeze front. There were very few if any drops of rain at Singleton Lake.

The fragrances that came from the wild flowers were quite beautiful. The deer flies that buzzed my head were the only irritants. I matched the colours of the clouds very carefully although they certainly were moving targets. There would be fewer clouds tomorrow with a ridge of high pressure building in.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Singleton Forest Greens"

It was too hot to work and I had paint on the palette. The clouds were not cooperating so I decided to try one of the small panels and play with the colours of green that bordered Long Reach Lane. I mix all of my greens although I do have some green oils in my kit. I rarely use the store bought greens. The deer flies kept me hopping so that I did not overwork the panel. I laid the paint on thick with lots of texture from the brushes. The smooth panel surface is conducive to the "love it and leave it" paint strokes. You really shouldn't go back and touch the stroke a second time. The result of multiple strokes is thicker mud. This painting is only 5x7 inches in size.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Paddle the Arch Tour - Charleston Lake – Saturday October 5th, 2013

The really long range forecast looks great! It will be a beautiful day. I will be the colour commentator for the Charleston Lake Tour this year. Don Cherry wasn’t available but like Don, I am very proud of Canada and that includes Charleston Lake. Typically my topics of conversation include Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven, Clouds and Weather Lore, Climate Change, Art, Photography and don't forget the Birds and the Bees.
As a Founding Member of the "50 Years of Our Flag Committee" I can also address why Brockville is the birthplace of the Canadian Maple Leaf Flag and why John Ross Matheson is often referred to as the "Father of the Flag". Being a trained meteorologist I can also talk about things I have no special expertise in but can make it up right on the spot. If you have followed my Blog for any length of time, none of this would be news to you.
That's me in my floppy hat and sun glasses. More information can be found at the 1000 Islands Kayaking website: and

I hope that you can make it. It will be a fun day on the water with beautiful fall colours and great food.

Phil the Forecaster Chadwick

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Celebrating Canada

It is time for some good news!
"Celebration of 50 Years of Our Flag", painting number 1300 (above) and "50 Years of Our Flag", painting number 1301 (below) are now available for viewing by appointment at my Singleton Lake Studio. These paintings are the fruits of a year of collaboration with Bob Harper, the Chair of the “50 Years of Our Flag Committee” and John Ross Matheson – both of whom I am proud to call friend. 

Bob is pure patriotic, inspiration with a million ideas to encourage pride in Canada, its Maple Leaf Flag and Brockville. John was introduced in 1964 by Prime Minister Lester Pearson to the crowd at the celebration for Canada's new flag saying: “Here’s the man who had more to do with it than any other.” The breadth of knowledge possessed by these special individuals and my collaborators is simply unique. In addition, we are also proud Brockvillians.
Countless hours were spent selecting the names of individuals who deserved special mention for the achievement of the Canadian Maple Leaf Flag. I am honoured that Great Great Uncle Edward M. Chadwick made the cut. Many more hours were spent selecting artwork from my rather large portfolio.  The result is a distillation of pure Canadiana on to a 4x6 foot canvas – the size of an official hockey net – big! The coincidences and effort to make these paintings realities are of the same magnitude spent achieving the first Canadian Maple Leaf Flag. For a plein air painter, I have never spent so much concentrated time at my studio easel. I listened to a lot of Gordon Lightfoot, Valdy, Great Big Sea, Tom Cochrane and other Canadian artists... including my friend Glen Hornblast. There is a lot of Canadian talent out there!
I prefer that my art speak for itself but for the sake of the 50 Years of Our Flag Committee, Bob Harper, John Ross Matheson and the City of Brockville, birthplace of the Canadian Flag, I will make this exception. Bids start at $60,000 plus HST.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Jim Day Morning

I thought the title was humourous with "day" and "morning" in juxtaposition. Jim Day Rapids is my swimming hole but I had to paint before I could justify going for a dip. I haven't missed a swimming day since June 1st. This is the first time that I have painted from this elevated vantage point looking down at the rapids. The water flow was still high after a wet June and July - but not as high as the 146 mm one day rainfall in Toronto the day before. A meteorologist lives to work on a record weather day and to get the forecast and warning right - before they occur.
The quasi stationary front dangling across southern Ontario was just north of Singleton Lake judging by the southwesterly winds shaping the clouds. It was also quite hot and muggy. Thunderstorms would be a good forecast focused along the Lake Ontario lake breeze convergence line. 

Singleton Daisies

I needed a diversion from the clouds and these daisies were right around the corner. I try to paint daisies every year. They are a pretty and happy little flower and sprout almost anywhere without asking for any care. The leaves of the daisy are also good in salads. The daisy is also the April birth flower so I guess it is especially appropriate for me to try to capture in oil. I didn't count the petals as I painted but now, after the completion, there were 30 petals in the daisies that I painted. The white petals are stacked and overlapped so the number in the painting is what I saw - or close enough.

I have been unable to upload the images for the last couple of days. I have not discovered the "fix" yet but will add the images when I do. I found a "work-around"... not easy but it works.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Oil Paint in the Freezer

I like to use a lot of paint and I hate to waste it. The paint I use is quite expensive and for creativity it is best to keep a lot of it available on your palette. I attempt to get the most out of my palette by storing it in the freezer between sessions. The freezing point of linseed oil employed in the paint that I use is -20°C (-4°F). Our freezer is set at -17.8°C (0°F) , so the oil paint does not actually freeze. The cold temperature slows the rate of oxidation and evaporation thus preserving the paint. Now if I could just convince the bride that it is "OK" to get a little bit of paint on the frozen foods....

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Stinkpot Turtles at Singleton

The stinkpot turtle became a threatened species in 2002. I saved a couple off nearby roadways in the last few years and introduced them to the safe habitat along our shorelines. On June 29th one came to lay eggs in our yard. They all look the same to me so I am not certain if this is one of my friends. These small turtles are very secretive! After we found out where she laid and was headed back to the lake, I gave her a free ride back to the water's edge. I protected her nest so that these eggs should hatch safely in 9-12 weeks. The baby stinkpots are only 3/4 on an inch when they hatch...

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Art is Science

I never fully retired in 2011 and continue to publish original research through my COMET co-workers in Boulder, Colorado. The COMET® Program ( has been turning this research into training modules since 2005. There are still many years of effort to go but a lot has been accomplished.
The “Satellite Palette” is sometimes called “Satellite Feature Identification”. The palette shows how art can be applied to satellite meteorology to better understand the real atmosphere. All of the modules are quite free- there are no conditions. Access to all of this educational material only requires your email and a unique password that you make up. COMET is an enlightening treasure!
The module just published is “Inferring Three Dimensions from Water Vapour Imagery” and it introduces a new way to depict and use water vapour imagery. This has been a goal for a decade but my buddies at COMET turned it into a reality. The first ever image created using these ideas is shown above. We have improved on this first try.  I invite you to take a look. The module is not too technical and it certainly is fun as it reveals that the atmosphere and the coffee in your cup are really just fluids!
Stay tuned for more modules, the “Radar Palette” and my research on performance measurement… it may be decades before all of this gets done so do not hold your breadth. 

Tuesday, July 2, 2013


A cold frontal band of showers was lined up through Ottawa headed slowly southward. I had some time to paint before the front arrived and I thought I would paint the warm sector clouds. The cumulus were very heavy with moisture and shaped by the northwesterly winds which helps to explain why the frontal push was very minimal. I had no problem finishing the painting before the showers arrived. There were lots of boats out fishing for bass. I put one of them in the painting. They were fishing the prime spot on the edge of a ledge and drop off.

A stinkpot turtle came by to lay her eggs. She was probably one of the two stink pot turtles that I rescued from the highway near Delta. Linda and I watched and waited while she picked the perfect spot to lay her eggs. I had a protective cover ready.


It was raining hard enough that I had to stand inside and look out over my subject matter. Jim Day Rapids is always interesting from a fluid dynamic perspective. The back eddies and associated deformation zones on either side of the main current were painted meteorologically correct. The reflections in the fast moving water were the other attraction on this wet day.

Oils on burnt sienna/yellow ochre coloured acrylic tinted foundation on commercial canvas - 8 X 10

Monday, July 1, 2013

Happy Canada Day 2013 from Brockville

Brockville, the birthplace of the Canadian Flag witnessed a special flag raising at 3 pm. The event unfurled as forecast in a previous Blog entry . John Ross Matheson was in attendance along with some of his family. I lost count but I am guessing that at least 700 Brockvillians were also in attendance to enjoy the awesome spectacle and celebration. The weather was perfect with a high overcast and a gentle cold conveyor belt, northeasterly breeze. Every outside event needs a meteorologist...

Bob Harper read the plaque to John Ross who remarked that every word was indeed true. I think the words are legible if you open the larger image.

It was an inspiring moment. I took enough pictures to fill an album but the smile on John's face as he spoke with a little girl sums it up for me. 

The Canadian Maple Leaf Flag is an unifying symbol among young and old from all corners of Canada and indeed the world. It is an honour to think that the concept was born in Brockville and that the 50 Years of Our Flag Committee with the generous support of SmartCentres is helping to keep the good news soaring. The new Canadian Flag is spectacular!