Tag Archives: Virga

Photographing Sunsets over Lake Powell – Part 2

Here is the epitome of an Arizona sunset: it really puts the Arizona state flag into perspective. The patch of clouds casting beams of shadows (or the sun casting beams of light, depending on how full your glass is).

Arizona Sunset
Godbeams and Sunset over Arizona

As you may have seen in the Virga post, drops of rain from a storm at sunset catch the red light as they try to reach the ground.

Sunset and Rain
Sunset and Rain

Although the sun is a little too high in this shot to give us the epic sunset clouds over the lake, I really like the cooler colors during this Monsoon-season frame and the contrast of the dark clouds overhead. By the time the sun came down enough to begin to light the clouds over the lake it became obscured and the show was over.

Lake Powell Golden Hour
Lake Powell Golden Hour

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