Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Wow! What a Sunrise.

Normally my commute to work is rather mundane, but this morning had one of the best sunrises I've seen. There was a huge, crisp and bright sun pillar shining up from the horizon. These aren't horribly uncommon, but this one was a doozy. See, we live in an area that is ripe for meteorological anomalies.

(WARNING! Weather Geek-Speek to follow): With that big body of water to our east and that nasty wind from Canada to the northwest, we can see some exciting occurrences. All that cold air arrives via the jet stream, which, for the most part goes west to east. But often it slides north into Canada before making a hard right and heading down into Wisconsin. When that cold air hits the warm air that hovers over Lake Michigan, those two air masses of different temperatures get mad at each other and snow is created. Ok - that's not entirely accurate, but you get the jist. Anyway, while we're not in the snow belt that is created by these battling air masses, we are allowed a peek at the beginnings of the fight. And that's what created this morning's awesome sunrise. Accompanying the cold Canadian air from the northwest was a band of high cirrocumulus clouds, yet the eastern horizon was clear. (Something that we see often enough is the stacking of cloud banks over Lake Michigan - they come in on the prevailing west winds, hit the warmer, moist air above the lake, and want to hang out for a while. It's like they're afraid to go to Michigan. I can understand.) Conditions were just right where the ice crystals formed by the freezing of the warm water vapor above the lake came falling back down. As the sun was peeking up from the east, the light bounced off of these ice crystals and created a big pillar of light. In addition, the bottom side of the cloud bank was illuminated in a brilliant mix of purples and pinks. It sure was a nice start to another cold winter morning.

I really need to carry a camera with me.

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