Saturday, January 25, 2014

Cold Morning

Philadelphia is in the mist of its second arctic vortex this January. But it is nothing compared to last February, when I traveled to Churchill, Manitoba on the western shore of the Hudson Bay. I went to see the northern lights, and I was not disappointed.

And the day I landed it was -40 ℉/℃.

Now that's cold. Although the week before it was - 65 ℃, so the locals thought this a heat wave! And before the week was out it would get into the single digits Fahrenheit.

And cold means that there could be ice halos around the sun. So I kept a weather eye. And one morning at breakfast we saw this.

A partial halo with sundogs, a solar pillar, and curious ground level sundog like brightening.

Click the image to bigafy. The bright spots are glints of light reflecting off snow crystals blowing about.

When I told people I was going to Churchill in February some though it very cool. And some though it crazy. Proof of the latter?

Yep, yours truly without coat or gloves.

I was there for a week and this was the only morning we had such a display. It didn't last long and we had to rush to get our shots before it was gone. Thus the lack of outerwear (a method to my madness?).


My go to site for for all things atmospherics, Les Cowley's wonderful Atmospheric Optics site turned up nothing on the ground level sundogs. The only similar thing was page about double sundog images due to ice fogs.  Perhaps there was an ice fog out over the Hudson Bay.

Update: I emailed Dr. Cowley and he was kind enough to email me back. He writes, "They are halos form diamond dust ice crystals either drifting in the free air or in a dilute ice fog".  Very cool.

No comments: