A view to the north from Port Angeles Friday showed a peculiar sight out over Victoria, B.C. -- a waterfront area that seems to be stretched tall, as if someone took the city and put it a taffy machine.
Instead, it's a rather common mirage effect around the Puget Sound and Strait of Juan de Fuca area called Fata Morgana.
The effect happens when you've got warm summer air sitting over a cold body of water -- water temperatures in the Sound and Strait are around 55-60 degrees. The cooling of the air near the water surface changes the density of the air -- cool air is more dense than warm air.
In turn, changes in air density can affect the path of a beam of light, bending it a bit as it moves from one density to another. (Ever noticed how things at the bottom of a swimming pool or beneath a glass of water look distorted? Try looking through a glass of water at something on the other side -- this is somewhat similar effect.)
This distortion will trick your eye into thinking something is taller or shorter -- or in some cases, upside down.
Here is another photo of what appears to be a cruise ship just heading into Victoria on Friday looking taller than it's supposed to be:
Here are some earlier blogs on the effect: