Wave Cloud over the San Francisco Peaks

We had an interesting wave cloud over and downwind of the San Francisco Peaks on Saturday. I first noticed it as I left the house driving to a trail run on Waterline Road in the San Francisco Peaks north of Flagstaff.

Wave cloud over the San Francisco Peaks, Arizona.
Wave cloud over the San Francisco Peaks, Arizona.

The view from the parking lot and trailhead was partially obscured by trees but I knew that sections of the Waterline Road had a wide-open view. And, so, I found a view that I really liked with the wave cloud, road, and distant cinder cones.

I shot this as a set of five vertical panoramas on my iPhone. I then imported these into Affinity Photo to create a horizontal panorama (a panorama of panoramas!).  Finally, I used some warp transformation in AP to fix the horizon (i.e.; make it straight instead of curved) and the corners.

Five vertical panorama images used to create the final image.
Five vertical panorama images used to create the final image.

Oh, and the run was fun, too!

Lunar Eclipse and Cathedral Rock

A partially-eclipsed Moon rises behind Cathedral Rock.
A partially-eclipsed Moon rises behind Cathedral Rock.

I have been looking forward to this most recent Lunar eclipse for several months. I have worked up several scenarios to photograph the event, considered renting a larger lens, and more.

And, then, a few days before the event it became evident that it would probably be cloudy. All forecast models indicated increasing clouds moving in from the west. It was pretty obvious that I was not going to be able to capture the event from beginning to end.

That still left one possibility. There would be fewer clouds low in the east early in the eclipse so I might get a few shots of the beginning of the eclipse. So at the insistence of a friend, I joined him at Crescent Moon Picnic area near Cathedral Rock in Sedona, Arizona.

The plan was to get a few twilight photos of Cathedral Rock before it got too dark. And then get a photo or two of the Moon as it rose between the spires of Cathedral Rock. The Photographers Ephemeris was used to determine the best spot to see the Moon in the gap.

And then we waited.

Right on time the Moon rose in the gap with the Moon visible from 2002 to about 2012 MST.

The photograph at the top is a blended image of Cathedral Rock at 1938 MST and the partially-eclipsed Moon at 2010 MST. Below are the two images before they were combined.

Individual images used to create the blended image.
Individual images used to create the blended image.

The next two total Lunar eclipses will occur 7–8 November 2022 and 13–14 March 2025.

Snow in the Desert

Snow in the desert is amazing. Desert plants and red rocks are covered with snow and birds are just a bit bewildered by the whole experience.

Red rocks and snow covered trees near Sedona.
Red rocks and snow covered trees near Sedona.
Snow-covered desert plants near Sedona.
Snow-covered desert plants near Sedona.

A very cold storm system moved across Arizona on Tuesday and Wednesday and snow levels fell well below 4000′ feet bringing snow to the higher deserts including Sedona. I was pretty certain I was going to make the trip to Sedona for sunrise on Thursday morning.

Around 3 a.m. the snow plows came through the neighborhood pushing up a 2 foot berm of ice and  snow that would need to be cleared before I could get out of the driveway. Classic—happens just about every time!

Once in Sedona I followed a trail that had not seen any human traffic since yesterday but there were coyote tracks. I never saw the critter and it was probably just as well.

New snow covers red rock and trees in Oak Creek Canyon.
New snow covers red rock and trees in Oak Creek Canyon.

The snow in Sedona will be mostly gone within a day or two.

Sunrise on the San Francisco Peaks

It’s always fun to head out at the tail end of a winter storm and capture photographs of the sunrise with the new snow. This winter has had only a few periods with real winter weather—the most notable was the last 10 days of December. Since then storms and snow have been infrequent.

Pre-sunrise sky over the San Francisco Peaks( 0724 MST 23 January 2022).
Pre-sunrise sky over the San Francisco Peaks( 0724 MST 23 January 2022).
First light strikes the San Francisco Peaks (0735 MST 23 January 2022).
First light strikes the San Francisco Peaks (0735 MST 23 January 2022).

Of course I was interested in taking advantage of our latest weather event—even though it was fairly weak and delivered only a skiff of snow. A quick check of satellite imagery before sunrise showed that skies were mostly clear and that there was a cap cloud on top of the San Francisco Peaks.

I arrived a bit before sunrise at the Mormon Lake overlook and started taking both photographs and video. The clouds were already dissipating over the peaks resulting in much less of a cap cloud than I hoped.

No matter—it’s always fun to out there before sunrise shooting photos. Here are a few photos from before sunrise and just after as the sun began to illuminate the peaks.

Below is a time-lapse video showing the movement of the clouds over the summits of the San Francisco Peaks.

Time lapse video (50x) of the sunrise over the San Francisco Peaks.

I was also intrigued by the tire tracks left in the snow of the parking area.

Tire tracks in the new snow at Mormon Lake overlook.
Tire tracks in the new snow at Mormon Lake overlook.

Finally—here is a sunrise photo from New Years Day—the last day in which we had significant snow here.

Sunrise over the San Francisco Peaks on New Years Day.
Sunrise over the San Francisco Peaks on New Years Day.

Beautiful Sunset Followed by Snow

A strong storm system approached the southwest yesterday and moved through the state overnight. Ahead of the storm, clouds began to increase just before sunset and I found myself at the Mormon Lake overlook. The cumulus clouds were fairly shallow so that the sunlight hitting the tops of the clouds was scattered downward and provided some diffuse lighting and color to the cloud bases.

The setting sun faintly illuminates the meadows of Mormon Lake and provides some color to the field of cumulus clouds.
The setting sun faintly illuminates the meadows of Mormon Lake and provides some color to the field of cumulus clouds.
A few minutes later and the sun is now illuminating the bases of the clouds.
A few minutes later and the sun is now illuminating the bases of the clouds.

There was also a thin gap between the clouds and the ground allowing for just a few minutes of direct sunlight.

Here are a few photographs of the sunset and clouds along with some sunlight spilling across the currently dry lakebed of Mormon Lake.

Band of showers and thunderstorms associated with the advancing cold front.
Band of showers and thunderstorms associated with the advancing cold front.

As the storm and cold front approached showers and thunderstorms quickly developed with a line of strong thunderstorms developing about an hour after sunset. There was quite a bit of lightning as the line of storms moved across the area. The sound of rain faded as it was replaced by snow falling in the wake of the front.

New-fallen snow lies on this cinquefoil plant.
New-fallen snow lies on this cinquefoil plant.

In the morning there was snow covering the ground. Measurements were difficult as strong winds during the night had blown the snow such that some areas had a few inches and other areas were bare.

The snow juxtaposed with autumn colors was very pretty but my favorite photograph was the snow on this cinquefoil that still has some flowers.