Sunday, January 12, 2014

Drought and Drizzle


It rained on Saturday, less than a quarter inch (.635 cm). That was it. Sunny days on the horizon as far as the eyes can see, and they can see pretty far through our relentlessly clear skies. Our governor is trying to decide whether to formally declare a drought. But as with everything else, that decision is fraught with political ramifications. Our rainless reality is no measure for the nuance of language and politics.

We did appreciate even this slight precipitation. It probably did not reduce the fire risks or replenish any aquifer, but it's better than no rain at all. The trees were glistening Sunday morning with beautiful reflective drops of rain on their leaves and needles. There was even a bit of iridescence in the few clouds that remained after the rains.
This photo was taken just two minutes after the top pic.
It's been so long since we've had a rain, I had forgotten how the water evaporates from the trees in the early morning sunlight. I had gone out to photograph the sparkling sunlight in the trees and noticed the evaporating mist on the cedars. Then, this happened.

Such a beautiful phenomenon, the trees casting their shadows on the mist of evaporation. Even a little bit of rain produces some pretty fine moments.

22 comments:

  1. Wow! The atmospherics where you live are just amazing! I've seen inteesting shadows on clouds, but never on mist--especially shadows from the very thing from which the mist is rising!

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  2. CCorax-- I'm hoping that I've described this atmospheric accurately. I have never seen anything like it.

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  3. Very cool shots. We had a lot of mist around here this weekend. Unseasonably warm weather + melting snow. Kind of gross. I want my winter back!

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  4. That's rather unbelievable, but I know it's true!

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  5. Francine-- We need winter here too. It's unseasonably warm and dry.

    Kenju-- I sent a photo to Atmospheric Optics and asked what this optic is all about. It looks like a shadow of the tree, and what else it could be-- I have no idea.

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  6. Gorgeous photographs. We had more than five inches of rain on Saturday. Flash flooding and very high streams.

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  7. That has to be the shadow of the tree cast onto the mist. It's really a very nice shot, and a great catch.

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  8. NCmountainwoman-- I wish we could have had some of your rain. It is really spooky dry here.

    Mark P-- I was hoping you'd stop by and take a look at these photos. I really have no idea what this particular optic is. I keep thinking that for it to be a shadow the sun should be on the other side of the tree, and the shadow itself should be dark. I like the image and am glad I was there with the camera ready. I love a good mystery!

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  9. Here's the way I interpret that photo -- the mist has to be between the tree and the camera. The dark area, which looks like the same color as the sky, is actually the shadow, which is outlined by the lighter misty area, which is the mist illuminated by the sun. Do you think the mist was on the opposite side of the tree from you?

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  10. Mark-- I made a crappy 15 second video that might help you see what I saw. I don't really know what side of the tree the mist was on. What do you think?
    http://youtu.be/7Wckct1Az_s

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  11. It looks to me like the mist may be on the opposite side of the tree...but then I can't figure out how the light, coming from beyond the tree, would make the shadow. Clearly, you have magic going on here! And I viewed the video, too, and came away with the same conclusion...its magical!

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  12. The video is pretty cool, actually. I still think the mist is between you and the tree. Am I not understanding something?

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  13. John-- I'm thinking that the mist has to both between me and the tree and behind the tree as well. That's why it's confusing. It's a magical shadow!

    Mark P-- Glad you liked the video. I think the mist must be between me and the tree, although I did not perceive it that way. I was just overly worried about calling this a shadow in case it wasn't.

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  14. You experience more great atmospheric phenomena around you every few months than I have seen in my entire life. Maybe it's you and Roger, Robin Andrea.

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  15. Scott-- I'm basically obsessed. I go outside and look up all the time. If there are clouds and blue sky, I'm out there. It's amazing how often the sun, clouds, water droplets combine to make something phenomenal.

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  16. How close are those trees to each other, and how damp and/or might they have been?
    I have two thoughts as I watch the video: The first idea is that if the middle tree is dew-covered enough to reflect the sunlight, then that farther tree could be casting a shadow on mist that is on the far side of the trees. The other thought is that what we see is not a shadow: You can see the mist roiling up and as it passes the tree, it appears to be repelled a bit, rolling away, almost folding upon itself. Perhaps the vapor is just the right weight to be repelled by heat rising from the warming tree.

    Long shots, I know.... I hope it happens again and you can go investigate!

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  17. CCorax-- Thank you so much for this perspective. You articulate what I have been trying to express, but was unable to. I saw that as well, the way the mist moved away from the tree. Now I wonder what the underlying scientific principle is that creates this effect.

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  18. It has been painful, observing the effects of the *obvious* severe drought conditions in my home state. Truly painful. So dry it hurts my nasal passages, so dry that the heritage oaks of Sonoma County are in trouble. And so much more. But hey, lets pretend it's all okay, eh Jerry Brown? Ridiculous. (Don't even get me started!!)
    And part of why I cannot live here anymore. The visit has been amazing in every other way, and I will return to Santa Cruz this weekend. Going to spend more time up in White House Canyon, north of Waddell Creek and just south of Pescadero, among other things.
    Then back to my new home, where our catchment tank is overflowing and the rain has fallen consistently since my departure almost a month ago! xo


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  19. Annie-- I wish we could see you when you are in Santa Cruz and up on Waddell Creek. I know it'll be beautiful there, even though it's crazy dry. There may be safe pockets on the planet when the global climate shifts. I don't know where they will be. I'm just grateful to be as old as I am. I confess that the future scares me.

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  20. Robin, I don't have a clue as to what is what in those photos. I just know that it is amazing!

    I thought of you last night. I walked outside and there was a perfect and very bright corona around the moon. It might not even be that unusual, but it sure looked awesome.

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  21. Beautiful photos especially the last one. You make me feel guilty with all the rain we have had

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  22. Pat-- I'm so glad you liked these photos. And, I love knowing that you saw a corona around the moon. Moon coronas are more common, but they sure are gorgeous.

    Bill-- Thank you. No need to feel guilty, but if you could send us some of your rain we'd sure appreciate it!

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