2009-10-31 00:17:38.000 – Stacey Kawecki,  Observer and Meteorologist

Brocken spectre

‘Halo around the Sun or Moon, rain or snow soon.’

We observed a halo around the Sun this afternoon, which, according to the proverb, means that the summit will see rain or snow soon. Well, that is indeed true. How do we know? It could be the large green, yellow, and red blob heading our way on the radar. It could be because the forecast models say it will precipitate. It could also be because centuries of watching the sky has lead to the conclusion that if a halo is observed, it’s going to rain. People have been trying to predict the weather for ages, and we have come quite a ways. With the amazing technology and computing power in existence today, meteorologists can forecast, with a fair amount of accuracy, up to about 5 days. Most of the largest storms in the recent past have been well forecast, with the help of super computers and highly trained professionals.

However, a sailor from 200 years ago could have seen the halo, and known it would rain soon. Why is that? The presence of a halo indicates that there are very high clouds with ice crystals. The apparent circle we see is caused by the refraction of light through the ice crystals. What a halo means is that weather is on its way! Basically, moisture will stream in overhead, ahead of a low pressure system creating a cirrostratus cloud layer, which is like a warning. A fairly active low pressure system is heading towards your current location when you see a halo.

Well, it just so happens that a LARGE area of low pressure is heading our way. It is active and has already spawned multiple tornadoes in the south. In addition to a confident forecast of precipitation, it will also trigger the strongest winds this shift has seen in quite some time. It would seem with the wind roaring past the tower, Halloween on the summit is going to be more like Howloween.


Stacey Kawecki,  Observer and Meteorologist

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