Fantastic Skies!

Saturday was a scorcher! If you ventured outside you know it to be true! Heat advisory was issued before I got up (11:00am). At 3 in the afternoon I snapped a shot of my Kestral reading a Heat Index of 114.8 degrees!

Heat Index or 'what it feels like' outside on Saturday, 3pm.

Really was not the day to be outside!

Later on a Severe Thunderstorm Watch was issued for most of central and southern lower Michigan. Slight risk was out, but references to a ‘cap’ made me a little weary if anything would break through and find fuel. A storm north of Mount Pleasant built up for a few hours and one heck of a line went through the thumb region. Eventually a trailing line made itself known on radar, and a quick view north of Chelsea verified some storms firing.

Three cumulonimbus looking for trouble.

These storms fizzled out shortly after. I was looking at one to hit my house right as some friends were coming over for fireworks, but the bottom dissipated and we had a bottomless anvil cloud pass over with just a brief shower (was once a severe warned cell in Jackson county).

Once again I was faked out as the line started to back-build and a surprise shower hit right as the grill was starting to actually cook something.

The real treat came around sunset when low flying scud and fractus were creating a brilliant sky! I’m ashamed that I know so little about the white balance feature on my camera, because the camera would correct the color to be more natural looking instead of show what it actually was like! I fiddled with some presets and got some results to mimic what it looked like. Cool but strange atmosphere of a different planet when the sky goes yellow, green, orange, and red.

Had some people asking when the tornado was going to hit due to the misconception that colored skies breed tornadoes. The only explanation I had for this was the combination of sunset and low clouds, which is what a study by some scientists over 15 years (from 2007) has come to find is the likely cause:

Researchers remain undecided about the exact mechanisms that cause the sky to appear green in certain thunderstorms, but most point to the liquid water content in the air. The moisture particles are so small that they can bend the light and alter its appearance to the observer. These water droplets absorb red light, making the scattered light appear blue. If this blue scattered light is set against an environment heavy in red light—during sunset for instance—and a dark gray thunderstorm cloud, the net effect can make the sky appear faintly green. In fact, green thunderstorms are most commonly reported in the late afternoon and evening, according to Beasley.

Sun chillin' behind some low trailing clouds.

Sky giving you that 'don't mess with me' look. Love to play a game of chicken with it.

Sky is on fire!

Highlight of the night was seeing Mammatus! Usually associated with severe thunderstorms, these clouds hide on the underside of the anvil cumulonimbus. At least that’s one location. I’ve never seen them in person, so it was a huge deal. I took many pictures, and tried to pick the right one to showcase here:

Mammatus clouds look like little cloud sacks. How these clouds exactly form is still unsure. Ideas are there, but much remains a mystery.

Will probably put some shots up on flickr within the next few days if you are interested in more!

Have a safe and fun Independence Day!


About gweatherc
Live in Michigan and enjoy observing the weather. Want to pursue it as a career! Currently taking classes at Central Michigan University.

One Response to Fantastic Skies!

  1. Pamela says:

    As one of the people who shared the view of the sky with you…the sky put on quite a show of it’s own, even before the fireworks began! I felt like we were on the set of a Star Wars film or maybe on a planet far, far away. So glad you got those great pictures. Definitely a night to remember, in more ways than one….good friends, good food, lots of laughter. Let’s do it again next year, same time, same place.

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