Weather Blog

'Tis the season for brilliant 'fire rainbows'

'Tis the season for brilliant 'fire rainbows'
Circumhorizontal arc taken over Spokane, Wash. on June 3, 2006. (Photo: Ron Glowan)

NOTE: Story orignally posted May 8, 2013

The first week of May is probably better known around here as the Opening Day of Boating Season but did you also know it's when we kick off the fire rainbow season?

Fire rainbows, or more officially (and more boringly) known as "circumhorizonal arcs" are caused by ice crystals in the thin, distant clouds being at just the correct angle to refract the sunlight into the colors of the prism.

Ron Glowen, now of Arlington, Wash., just sent me these photos that were taken in June of 2006 while visiting his hometown of Spokane.

Snohomish storm chaser gets 1-in-a-million shot of tornado, rainbow

Snohomish storm chaser gets 1-in-a-million shot of tornado, rainbow
Tornado and rainbow during storm near Wiley, Colorado on May 8, 2015. (Photo: Benjamin Jurkovich)

Not sure I've ever seen a photograph that captures the beauty and power of weather in one singular shot.

Snohomish's Benjamin Jurkovich, part of the JWSevere Weather Chasing Team has been out storm chasing in the Midwest for the past few weeks and he's had his share of twisters, super cells, and other images that define Tornado Alley in the spring.

But this one he got near Wiley, Colorado Saturday afternoon might be the most unique in his portfolio -- a tornado at the same time as a rainbow.

A few easy tips that can save your life on the water

A few easy tips that can save your life on the water

As sunshine and 70s become more common this time of year, so do the spontaneous trips out to enjoy the warmth out on the water. And with that comes the busiest time of the year for water rescuers.

Sadly, May is the month with the highest amount of water-related fatalities in the Northwest and this year is no different.

Full moon teams up with Space Needle for dramatic photographs

Full moon teams up with Space Needle for dramatic photographs
Photo of full moon behind Seattle's Space Needle on May 3, 2015. (Photo courtesy: Sigma Sreedharan Photography)

SEATTLE -- The full moon made quite the appearance Sunday night and local photographers were at the ready.

We received a few photos with the moon lined up with the Space Needle.

But the photographers didn't have to "luck" in the shot. Did you know there are tools out there to help you be ready for these kind of amazing photos?

April continues year-plus long streak of warmer temps in Seattle

April continues year-plus long streak of warmer temps in Seattle
Photo: Meg McDonald, Wild Northwest Beauty Photography

An impressive temperature streak in Seattle is still going strong…

April finished up with an average temperature of 51.4 degrees in Seattle -- 1.1 degrees above normal, making it the 14th consecutive month with above normal temperatures.

Stevens Pass has earliest snow meltout in at least 34 years

Stevens Pass has earliest snow meltout in at least 34 years
A dusting of snow stubbornly hangs on at Stevens Pass ski resort on April 29, 2015. (Photo courtesy: Stevens Pass ski resort)

STEVENS PASS, Wash. -- The paltry snowpack at Stevens Pass this winter is now officially melted out.

While there is still a dusting of snow around some parts of the pass area, the measuring station there measured less than 2 inches of snow water equivalent on the ground Tuesday -- the official definition of when the snowpack is considered melted out, according to University of Washington research meteorologist Mark Albright.

Watch: Multiple lightning strikes stream from volcanic eruption in Chile

Watch: Multiple lightning strikes stream from volcanic eruption in Chile
The Calbuco volcano erupts near Puerto Varas, Chile, Thursday, April 23, 2015. (AP Photo/David Cortes Serey/ Agencia Uno)

There are some pretty incredible photos and videos of the Calbuco Volcano eruption in Chile. 

The eruption sent an ash plume high into the sky where it spread out to make an amazing cloud display that lit into brilliant colors at sunset.

Here is one time lapse video:

Smoke from Siberian wildfires turns Northwestern sunsets a fiery red

Smoke from Siberian wildfires turns Northwestern sunsets a fiery red
Sun sets over Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains on April 18, 2015. (Photo: Sigma Sreedharan Photography)

The scenes have almost felt like they're out of Hollywood imagination -- brilliant red sunrises and sunsets the last couple of days around Western Washington.

Why so red? It's a byproduct of the massive wildfires that recently burned a large area in Siberia.

The atmospheric winds are aligned this week to carry the smoke across the Pacific Ocean and into the Pacific Northwest.

First up, to get an idea of just how much smoke is in the atmosphere, look at this visible satellite image taken on April 14 of the southeastern Siberia area where the wildfires got out of control:


Credit: NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz, LANCE/EOSDIS MODIS Rapid Response Team at NASA GSFC. Caption by Adam Voiland.

Where did the smoke go? This graphic is a model trajectory tracing back the air pattern across the Pacific Ocean over the past week. Note the air from the wildfires makes somewhat of a bee line toward Seattle (with a brief stop for a loop-de-loop in the central Pacific:)

Amazingly the smoke is still quite intense when it gets here -- check out this high-resolution satellite image from Saturday and note the haze over Washington and British Columbia:

Weather blog: Hot, dry summer now the prohibitive favorite

Weather blog: Hot, dry summer now the prohibitive favorite
Photo courtesy: Mike Reid Photography

Just like a song that has the same verse over... and over.... and over...

and over....

Here comes the fresh 90 day forecast from the NOAA's National Climate Prediction Center and the story...is the same. In fact, it might be even more declarative: May is going to be hot and dry. Late spring is going to be hot and dry.

The summer is going to be hot and dry.

The autumn will be... warm.

Weak tornado touches down outside of Bremerton?

Weak tornado touches down outside of Bremerton?
Photo courtesy: Elaine Lunyou-Blankenship & Family.

Monday was another stormy day around the Puget Sound region, but it appears it was a bit extra-stormy on the Kitsap Peninsula.

Elaine Lunyou-Blankenship's husband snapped this photo of what appears to be a weak tornado that touched down west of Bremerton Monday afternoon around 4:15 p.m.

Lightning leaves a rather twisted scar on Olympia tree

Lightning leaves a rather twisted scar on Olympia tree
Photo: Barbara Engelhart

I have to admit even being a weather geek, I hadn't really thought much about how lightning strikes a tree, but this photo taken by Barbara Engelhart got me wondering how this particular lightning bolt chose its path to the ground.

"We had an interesting lighting strike here in Olympia on Wednesday afternoon," Engelhart wrote to me. "It sounded like a bomb went off or propane tank explosion. After looking around our property I came across one of the fir trees that had a spiral pattern on it and bark and wood gouged out."