Weather Blog

Cirrus clouds put on colorful sky show in Anacortes

Cirrus clouds put on colorful sky show in Anacortes
Photo: Del Zane

Sometimes it pays to be in the right place at the right time.

That goes for both a batch of wispy cirrus clouds and for Del Zane, an Anacortes photographer who had his camera ready when the aforementioned clouds drifted into the exact position needed to put on a colorful show Sunday afternoon.

Zane spotted these clouds looking south over Burrows Bay. He says the clouds were not very expansive and the show wasn't visible for more than 10 minutes.

The rainbow colors are caused when those clouds, made of tiny ice crystals, are at the correct angle to refract the sun's light like a prism. According to the wonderful Atmospheric Optics site, the sun has to be high in the sky for this to be seen -- above 58 degrees.

We're lucky in the Seattle area that we're at a good latitude to see them -- which according to this chart, we're eligible to see these arcs between early May and mid-August, with the the solstice being the peak as far as how long during the day the sun is above that level, giving us the best chances to align the conditions needed.

Here are some other photos Zane took. The first one was without any filters; the rest were taken with a polarized filter: