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The Journal Pioneer
But, it’s a dry rain.
I have always been a very curious person. Maybe that’s why I am blessed to be followed by so many curious people. My social media channels deliver some amazing questions. The other day, a letter landed in my inbox and the subject line caught my eye: “What a wonderful world.” It came from Darlene Ashley.
was out one evening in Carrolls Corner, N.S. hoping to photograph the moon when she spotted some very – in her words – stunning clouds. She didn't get a photo of the moon but said that what she saw was well worth the date with her camera. A few days later, another query came from Jamie -with a spectacular photo of the phenomenon Darlene had been admiring.
The photos are lovely and quite dramatic but what’s happening in and around these convective clouds is not that uncommon. Darlene and Jamie both witnessed virga. In meteorology, virga is precipitation that evaporates or sublimates before reaching the ground. A shaft of precipitation that doesn’t evaporate before reaching the ground is just plain old precipitation. Virga occurs when the air close to the ground is dry, causing the precipitation to evaporate in mid-air. This can take place around the world but is quite common in the desert.
Virga, also known as fallstreak or fall-stripe, appears to hang under a cloud or taper down from the cloud base. Virga is not a true cloud but a supplementary cloud and the word virga means 'rod' or 'stripe.' Wispy cirrus clouds are often both associated with and mistaken for virga. Tufted cirrus clouds with virga are popularly named mares' tails.
The best time to observe virga is during sunrise or sunset when the back-lighting from the sun illuminates the reddish stringy trails.
That’s when Darlene looked up and proclaimed “what a wonderful world.”
Thanks for sharing your photos and your enthusiasm!
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- Have a weather question, photo or drawing to share with Cindy Day? Email [email protected]
Cindy Day is the chief meteorologist for SaltWire Network