Cape Breton Weather Watching for the Natural Curious.


202 pages
Contains Photos, Illustrations, Maps, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 978-1-897009-13-5
DDC 551.697169




Reviewed by Janet Arnett

Janet Arnett is the former campus manager of adult education at Ontario’s Georgian College. She is the author of Antiques and Collectibles: Starting Small, The Grange at Knock, and 673 Ways to Save Money.



Why is the sky blue? Why are there so many kinds of fog? Why do mirages form? Why is Cape Breton Island a paradise for weather watchers? Danielson has answers. For those who have retained the child’s urge to ask why, why, why, this book is the perfect compendium of explanations.


You don’t have to be a tornado chaser to be a weather watcher. This fast-growing hobby includes tracking down elusive moon dogs, getting excited when you spot a fog bow, marvelling at the fury of suête winds, boasting of having witnessed a green flash or even a red aurora. For residents of Cape Breton, all this can be done without leaving the Island.


“If it’s foggy, you are truly in luck!”—Danielson’s wide-eyed enthusiasm and sense of fun permeates the text as he presents an informal yet informative outline of the elements of weather. He revels in wind, rain, sleet, freezing rain, snow, clouds, fog, and their colleagues. He truly delights in rainbows, hurricanes, mirages, and the aurora borealis. “Mirages,” he says, “are proof that nature has a sense of humour.” Feeling this “joy at the glory of the sky” is especially feasible in Cape Breton, he explains, because of its unique combination of location at the continent’s edge with a rich variety of topographical features such as steep cliffs and deep valleys. The Island is at the junction of several major weather tracks, a point where winds collide. In the ocean, the Gulf Stream introduces tropical heat while the Labrador current does the opposite. It is home to one of the windiest spots in Canada. The outstanding feature of Cape Breton weather is its changeability, as it is in a transition zone between arctic cold and subtropical warmth. It is the perfect place to spot flying saucer clouds, clouds made by whales, a silver thaw, and upslope fog.


The book is not only an explanation of weather but also a guide to the Island’s best atmospheric spectacles, how they form, and what they signify. There are lists of weather-watching activities suited for all skill levels, as well as a section on climate change. Danielson has packed in more than 225 colour photos and diagrams. Simplified and coloured for extra clarity, the diagrams are exceptionally effective. As weather watching grows in popularity, weather guides are flooding the bookstores. This is one of the most attractive and readable.


Danielson, Bill., “Cape Breton Weather Watching for the Natural Curious.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 23, 2024,