Thursday, July 21, 2011

Sunset's Final Curtain Call

 Another day [07/20/11] of extreme heat. I recorded an even 100° and my 22nd reading this summer 90° or above. While watering our critical plants at 4:15 p.m., I heard thunder to the northwest and felt sure we'd have a nice rain. I cut my watering short.
 I took a look at the radar and a storm was gathering near Eaton and was on a track to give us some needed moisture. The ETA was about 4:50 p.m. and I was back out in the yard at that time watching the clouds swirl our way. But a mere minute or so later, the clouds parted and the sun returned. The thunder stopped. We had missed our chance for rain.
 Then, at about 8:30 p.m., another round of storms dropped to the south and the weather radio began issuing warnings. Again we were in line for a nice shower. At last the wind began to blow and it began to rain. By 9 p.m. we had over half an inch of rain in the gauge. 
 As the storms receded to the south, as the power stopped its usual flickering, I watched as a brilliant orange glow began to overtake the house. It was a powerful and strange color and seemed to seep into the very bricks. Everything came alive as though on fire. Naturally I got my camera, pulled on a pair of shoes and was out in the yard, pajama-clad at 9 p.m. Sunset was just a minute before.

 Through the pines at the back edge of our property, the storm's dying embers glowed with brilliance. In this shot, pay attention to a small, lighter, circular cloud near the left edge of the photo. Standing there, it seemed a most unusual sight.

 I've turned the camera towards that cloud (slightly south of the first shot) and brought it into the opening between the trees. The sky looks like molten lava, flowing with the retreating storms.

 I zoomed in on that odd-looking cloud for this shot. It seems to hang there like a smoke ring. I suppose it is no more than a wisp of moisture torn loose from the cloud above by the swirling storm. And yet it seems an odd individual, there among the fiery clouds of sunset.
 These shots were all taken from 9:04 p.m. to 9:05 p.m.

 For comparison, these are the storm clouds from 5 p.m. moving southward. This cluster rumbled to our north and then stopped, broke apart and seemed to re-form to our south. I suppose it was an optical illusion but radar showed the approaching storm and then later a stretched area of light rain with storms well to the south. In any case, this first round gave us not one drop.

 I took one last shot (4:51 p.m.) almost overhead to show how the clouds, still angry in places, were parting and showing calm, blue sky, too.
 It was an interesting day, finally giving us our due of moisture and, I'm sure, making the desperate farmers very happy. But the second gift the day offered was that glorious sunset and that rare circular cloud hanging beneath. I came in, took off my shoes, watched a little TV and was in bed by 10 p.m. The night was calm and uneventful.