Virga over Utah, Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument

Virga or Raining Without Hitting the Ground

Continuing on my Lake Powell weather photographs are these examples of Virga, a weather condition where precipitation from the clouds is evaporating before it hits the ground. Virga is an awesome phenomenon especially during sunrise and sunset because the moisture catches the colors of the sunset.

This first photograph shows the effect of the wind on the falling rain, blowing it into a comma shape.

Virga over Utah, Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument
Virga over Utah, Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument

Although the highspeed film in this scan was rather grainy, I like this photograph because there are a number of individual clouds from which the rain is illuminated by the sunset. The use of a 300mm telephoto here has compressed the image. You may also notice that all of these examples are from roughly the same area, around Lone Rock Beach, looking north over the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. It would seem that Page and Lake Powell have a way of diverting these types of storms. The dry, hot air over the rugged landscape is what keeps the rain from making it all the way to Earth. The cooler mass and absence of radiated heat from Lake Powell itself tends to allow the rain to fall completely.

Virga During Sunset
Virga During Sunset
Virga During Sunset
Virga During Sunset

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