Weather Blog

Sun peeks out in Seattle, puts on dazzling show

Sun peeks out in Seattle, puts on dazzling show
Photo of sun dog over Everett (taken by Kim Sistek)

Figures on the one day it was reasonably sunny in weeks, the sun would put on a show for us.

We received several photos of beautiful "sun dogs" and mysterious rainbows that were in the sky around the sun Friday evening.

The display was a perfect conglomeration of high clouds in the sky with a favorable sun altitude (and, for those spirtually inclined, the first home opener for the Seattle Mariners without our beloved Dave Niehaus). That put the ice crystals in those high clouds in the exact perfect spot to reflect the sunlight into some incredible displays.

And there was more than just one effect in play. The bright spots to the left and the right of the sun are called "sun dogs" or "parhelias". Here is a detailed explanation of how they occur, but the short version is it's the shape of the ice crystals in the clouds that help create the display.

But in addition to the sun dogs, we also had inverted rainbows atop the sun. These are called Circumzenithal arcs (Alert to Scrabble players -- I think that word is worth about 300,000 points). Or, you can just go with "neat upside rainbow" if you don't have spell check handy. Those are also created from the shape of the ice crystals and their position to the sun. Cliff Mass' Weather Blog from Friday has a more detailed explanation of how those occur.

I've seen sun dogs around here on occasion, but the upside rainbows are a first for me, and certainly the first time I've seen them together, although conditions that make one are not too far off the conditions needed to make the other.

Here are some other great photos captured by our readers and those who submitted to our YouNews gallery.

By YouNews contributor: CollettedCat (Great photo -- she captured all three!)

Then she says a passing cirrus cloud burst into color as it floated to the perfect spot:

By YouNews contributor jitvanzoo:

By YouNews contributor bosscoe:

 By: Katy & Mike:

By YouNews contributor GFLSguy:

By YouNews contributor Miked0801

By Cyntha Berman of Maple Leaf:

And one that is not from Friday, but illustrates what the halo would look like with a solid layer of cirrus clouds, comes from Jason Hummel of (Photo Copyright Jason Hummel, all rights reserved, and used here with permission from photographer:)

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