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Cloud Canvas

The setting sun painted a beautiful picture over Fresno Thursday evening illuminating high clouds that drifted over the valley from dying mountain thunderstorms.
The setting sun painted a beautiful picture over Fresno Thursday evening illuminating high cirrus clouds that drifted over the valley from dying mountain thunderstorms.

Earlier in the day strong thunderstorm updraft winds blew moisture straight up into the atmosphere high over Yosemite National Park that basically became tiny ice crystals tens of thousands of feet in the air.

Those high clouds that came off the top of the thunderstorm are known as anvil clouds because they look a bit like the pointed end of a blacksmith's anvil.

As the thunderstorm lost energy and decayed in the mountains the anvil cloud drifted out over the valley pushed along by stronger westerly winds high in the upper atmosphere.

Just as the cirrus clouds moved over Fresno light from the setting sun was beaming from low on the horizon so the clouds became lit from a low angle and changed from bright white to delicate yellow, pink and orange as the sun went down.

The strange light lured my neighbors outside just after dinner to see what was going on and snap a few pictures like the one I took when the clouds were bright white.

The storms that developed over the high Sierra Thursday afternoon were sparked by circulation around a lazy low pressure trough slowly moving away from California.

Tomorrow will bring another day of thunderstorms to the mountains but the westerly winds will be lighter and the storms will be weaker and that means the valley probably won't get another light show like the one we had at sunset today.

I hope you had a chance to see it!

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Fresno, CA

62°F
Clear
  • High: 89°F
  • Low: 50°F
  • Sunrise: 6:22 AM PDT
  • Sunset: 7:35 PM PDT
  • Feels Like: 62°F
  • Wind Chill: 62°F
  • Visibility: 10 mi.
  • Dew Point: 49°
  • Relative Humidity: 62%