Fogbows, Glories, and Brocken Spectres

Another winter storm brought some snow but also morning fog to some of the low-lying areas. This type of shallow fog can produce fogbows as well as a Glory and Brocken spectre. I was not disappointed as all three were visible.

Fog bow with Glory and Brocken spectre.
Fog bow with Glory and Brocken spectre.
Glory and Brocken Spectre (center) with partial segments of a Fogbow.
Glory and Brocken Spectre (center) with partial segments of a Fogbow.

Time lapse (50x) of fog.

Another round of snow is expected this week.

Snow and Fog in Sedona, Arizona

A late-season winter storm brought snow to the high deserts of northern Arizona. An early morning check of weather conditions indicated that Sedona airport (KSEZ) had reported snow. And satellite data showed an area of fog in the Verde Valley, including Sedona. This had the potential to be a great opportunity for photographs.

Fog and low clouds surround Cathedral Rock.
Fog and low clouds surround Cathedral Rock.
Fog and low clouds surround Cathedral Rock.
Fog and low clouds surround Cathedral Rock.
Snow covered cactus.
Snow covered cactus.
Fog and mist partially obscure the red rock cliffs.
Fog and mist partially obscure the red rock cliffs.
Snow covered yucca plant below the red rocks.
Snow covered yucca plant below the red rocks.

The early morning visit to Sedona was worth the effort. And the trip home included a stop at the recently re-opened Indian Gardens  Cafe in Oak Creek Canyon.

Wave Clouds over Sedona

Earlier in the day the clouds were more extensive over northern Arizona but by early afternoon the sky was mostly clear with only occasional wave clouds appearing. These wave clouds were not terrain locked (i.e., remaining in place) but were moving quickly with the strong winds aloft. It is likey that they were generated by the Black Hills in Yavapai County.

Wave clouds above MItten Ridge in Sedona.
Wave clouds above MItten Ridge in Sedona.

The conversion of the original image to black and white helps to show the shape and textures of the cloud as well as the details of the cliffs and towers of Mitten Ridge.

 

More Wave Clouds

A few days ago there was a great example of trapped lee waves (also known as trapped mountain waves). These waves occur when the wind speed increases rapidly with height and the atmospheric stability decreases above a mountain-top or ridge-top stable layer. This results in a series of lee waves (and clouds) downstream of the mountain. This wind and stability situation is fairly common—especially in the winter.

Panoramic image of Altocumulus Standing Lenticular (ASCL) just before sunset.
Panoramic image of Altocumulus Standing Lenticular (ASCL) just before sunset.
Cigar-shaped lee wave clouds.
Cigar-shaped lee wave clouds.
Another example of lee wave clouds.
Another example of lee wave clouds.
GOES-16 visible satellite imagery shows numerous wave clouds across northern Arizona
GOES-16 visible satellite imagery shows numerous wave clouds across northern Arizona

Towards sunset some higher-level Altocumulus Standing Lenticular (ACSL) clouds became more prominent and as the sun set became quite colorful. The image at the top of this post was taken a few minutes before sunset and is a panorama composed of five individual images taken with an ultra-wide 16 mm lens.

Mountain-Generated Snow Squalls

A few days ago we had an impressive snow squall that formed downwind of the San Francisco Peaks. Watching this evolve on radar was fascinating and I decided to drive to a location where I would have a good view to the east.

Low clouds and fog brightly lit by the sun
Low clouds and fog brightly lit by the sun
Annotated image showing cloud motions in the snow squall.
Annotated image showing cloud motions in the snow squall.

Clouds in the west were blocking most sunlight but there was a narrow gap that allowed the sun to brightly illuminate the low clouds and fog associated with this event.

Radar depiction of a snow squall.
Radar depiction of a snow squall.

The radar image shows the precipitation from the snow squall while the large white dot is my location. The overall motion of the low cloud was to the south-southeast (left-to-right in the photograph)—however, the motion at the top of the low cloud was in the reverse direction (i.e., right-to-left) and there was some rotation along the cloudy/clear interface. This is fairly typical of a density current with cold air sliding under warmer air and shear/rotation being present at the interface.

Another fun day of cloud photography!