A good meteorological omen, and a great way to start the new year

Today I stepped outside and was greeted with this image just after the clouds parted. Fortunately I had my camera ready to go. This view is at the Sierra Nevada foothills looking Northeast over Bidwell Ranch, CA. A light mist was falling and the sun was behind me. I had a wide view of the horizon. Perfect rainbow conditions enabled me to catch this rare full arc

1/1/10 ~ 2:30PM PST looking NE towards the Sierra Nevada foothills - click to enlarge

This is a composite image of two photos, using panorama stitching software. There’s hint of  a double rainbow too, see photos below.

Interesting thing about this property, it was purchased by the City of Chico and the local environmentalists consider it “sacred ground”, and have managed to convince the city to make it off limits and marked as “no tresspassing”. Look but don’t touch.

Here’s a photo from my weather station that shows the rainbow:


And here’s a better photo of the double rainbow:

Bidwell Ranch ~2:30PM PST 1/1/10 - click to enlarge

76 thoughts on “A good meteorological omen, and a great way to start the new year

  1. Dropped a lot of Retardant in that Chico country, nice to see a rainbow there.
    When I saw Chico it was usually smoke and fire. Great Pic. set it as my wallpaper..

  2. Great photo and a good reminder that we need not fear rising sea level destroying life on earth:

    12 And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: 13 I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14 Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, 15 I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. 16 Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.”

    Genesis 9:11-16 NIV

  3. Its beautiful!
    But my wallpaper is the picture of the snow rollers from this website last year. Every time I look at the snow rollers, it makes me smile. Who ever took that photo, thanks!

  4. Nice view, Anthony, Happy New Year.
    One comment about the city purchase of that land. All these enviro set-asides dilute the tax base, and us regular taxpayers have to pony up more. No one seems to consider that side effect of rampant do-goodism.

  5. David L. Hagen (20:05:37) : “Great photo and a good reminder that we need not fear rising sea level destroying life on earth…”
    Unless you build cities below sea level.

  6. Nice shot. One thing that I think you can see, at least in the first picture, is that it is brighter inside (i.e., below) the rainbow than outside (i.e., above it).
    That is in fact what one expects to see because the rainbow angle represents a maximum angle for light that is reflected once within the raindrop.

  7. Mark Baker (19:49:45) :

    … Denmark as a man with a cold on weather.com?

    Judging by the head apparel his name must be Richard.

  8. Nice photos!
    We are in deep hole of depressing temp inversions just east of you, fog from the rivers, no sunshine, too cold to even go skiing. Fourth year in a row.
    So there’s hope. Thanks!

  9. A good meteorological omen, and a great way to start the new year
    ‘Global Warming….or a Lot of Hot Air’ is on Fox News now. It’s the second time they’ve played it today. Another nice way to start the new year.
    They’re going over ClimateGate now. 🙂

  10. Keith Minto (20:23:32) :
    What is the name of the area between the primary and secondary rainbows ?

    Alexander’s band. Not to be confused with Alexander’s Rag Time Band.

  11. More public land turned into “wilderness” – the only true example of which, as we know, is the space between the greenies ears.

  12. I see you’re still in Chico. I used to watch you on TV when I was in college there.
    I enjoy your blog.
    REPLY: Thanks – still broadcasting daily, just a different format – A

  13. WUWT ends the old year with heavenly wonder and starts the new with earthly beauty. Thanks and happy new year, Anthony!

  14. The wonders of nature and weather are beautiful to see from mammatus clouds to anticrepuscular rays to Brocken Spectres, we live in a beautiful world that hasn’t changed as much as many would have us believe. Turn your eyes to the sky and away from those who say the science is settled… There is more here on this beautiful green earth than is dreamed of in the halls of academia…

  15. Nice captures Anthony. Thanks for sharing.
    If you even need “weather” pictures for WUWT, please drop me a line. I have hundreds of cloud shots … Chinook (lenticular) clouds, mammatus … big thunder storms… stuff like that. Also rainbows ..hail…funnel clouds (poor pix).
    Say … you are a weather guy. I have a multi-shot pano of a rainbow under a blue sky..not a cloud for miles and there were indeed raindrops falling. Weird weather stuff.
    Weather is VERY cool. Too bad “Al Baby” spoiled the fun.

  16. Beautiful picture! Years ago we had a full arc double rainbow with hints of a third near the horizon ends. I got enough film shots to piece together a complete view, but in those days the technology didn’t exist to put them together into one image. I haven’t seen the photos for years but it might be time to hunt them up and see if my limited Photoshop skills can manage to put them together.

  17. Thank you Anthony, the moderators, and all the members of this amazing blog. I have never learned so much in one year. All of you are great.

  18. Happy New Year!
    Have any more cities around the world turned up with bodgied data like Darwin? It makes anywhere suss.
    Australian MSM are still publishing articles about polar bears dying because of warming. It makes me wring my hands.

  19. Kevin Kilty (21:14:52) :
    Keith Minto (20:23:32) :
    What is the name of the area between the primary and secondary rainbows ?
    Alexander’s band. Not to be confused with Alexander’s Rag Time Band.
    The chocolate is in the mail :)… I recall reading Scientific American in the 1970’s referring to it as Alexanders Dark Band. Sort of a name that sticks.

  20. Keith, I seem to remember that the space ‘twixt’ the bows is called the “taint,” as in “taint part of one or t’other.” Or maybe I’m confused.

  21. Lee Kington (21:22:26) :
    I did take the liberty of playing with it….a touch more contrast and a bit of manipulation to the foreground thereby enhancing the visual impact of the rainbow arc.

    Isn’t that what CRU was doing ?
    Rainbowgate exposed !
    If I recall from AtmSci 201, any phenomenon in the atmosphere is called a meteor. The two rainbeaux have reversed color schemes. When flying, it’s often possible to see the complete circle double rainbow, with the aircraft shadow in the center.

  22. Keith Minto (21:40:55) :
    The chocolate is in the mail :)…

    I thought you might have said “in the e-mail”. Alexander’s Dark Band is truly dark. In contrast, the sky is quite bright inside the primary where you can often see lots of supernumerary bands.

  23. Almost every complete rainbow–and double rainbows, for that matter–I’ve ever seen have been north of Sacramento in that stretch of the Central Valley before the mountains start. It’s a nice way to start out the new year at the very least, so thanks for sharing.

  24. L (21:47:22) : Keith, I seem to remember that the space ‘twixt’ the bows is called the “taint,” …

  25. David Wendt (21:41:02)
    Wikipedia has a good explanation of this… http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander%27s_band
    OT, how do I create italics, underline, make words bold, etc, including the link ‘here’ from the comments section ?
    REPLY: [ The link self forms if you just past the hyperlink address in as it appears in your browser (but you do need to have white space on both side. You had a . touching the leading “h” and that confuses the auto form process…)
    Other “tags” are used for the other things.

    <i> Italics </i>
    <b> Bold </b>
    <strike> Strike Out </strike>
    And you can use "pre" to make a table like this one.

    See: http://www.w3schools.com/HTML/html_formatting.asp
    for a list of more. Not all of them will work with wordpress, but you can look around and try some things. Different blog hosts will support different sets. “block” for example does indented paragraph quotes.
    -mod. ]

  26. When I was a little boy, my parents used to tell me that if you walk underneath a rainbow, you will change from a boy to a girl (and vice versa).
    I was SCHITT scared of rainbows for years a little kid/

  27. and a great way to start the new year
    2009 wasn’t too bad for droughts in the US—despite all the noise made about Georgia
    Top U.S. weather story of 2009: drought hits a 10-year low
    The weather gods were unusually kind to the U.S. in 2009, as the nation had no hurricane landfalls, a relatively quiet tornado season, no billion-dollar floods, and the lowest drought footprint of the decade by year’s end.

  28. Keith Minto (22:24:44) :
    OT, how do I create italics, underline, make words bold, etc, including the link ‘here’ from the comments section ?

    Click the ‘Resources‘ link in the navigation bar atop this page, then go to the post by
    Ric Werme (15:11:37) :
    He has a list of the various html markup codes that work on this site.

  29. Mike McMillan (22:49:50) :,
    Thanks Mike, thought I had better scrub up the presentation for 2010 !

  30. Keith Minto (22:24:44) :
    … including the link ‘here’ from the comments section ?

    For links, you can type the full url, as in
    and it will automatically be linkified. Alternatively, to make here a link, do it like so-
    <a href=”http://wattsupwiththat.com/” alt=””>here</a>
    If you optionally stick something within the quotes in the alt=”” part, it will show up as a tooltip when you mouse over the link.
    Sure hope I didn’t mess that up.

  31. @ Mike McMillan (23:11:59) : You can just leave the “alt” part out if you are not using it, it’s not required.
    How did you get the example to show up?

  32. kadaka (23:44:36) : How did you get the example to show up?

    Recursion: See recursion.
    Ok, an HTML tag is a ‘markup language’ character. To get it to “show up” and not be stolen by the text processor, you need to use a “meta character”. And for me to get an example of the “meta character” to show up I need to use a “meta meta character character” … 😉
    Then, to show you how to display the “meta meta character character” I’ll need to recurse one more level… Then someone will ask….
    But I digress. Or regress. Or recurse. Or something.
    Ok, so we know that < is special and will be stolen, so to make it show up I need to type the metacharacter for it, which is an ampersand followed by lt followed by a semicolon: &lt;
    But to make THAT show up, I must make the leading & a metacharacter and the metacharacter for that is &amp; so my above example was entered as &amp;lt; but this example for the example had to have it’s leading & made into a meta character, so it was.. FUNT! brain boggle, core dumped, reboot in progress..
    [time passes]
    Got it?

  33. Nice photo.
    I live on the South Coast of England. Perfect arcs and double rainbows out at sea are common (when we have rainbows that is)
    Presumably that has somehing to do with our high humidity as a country and the additional mosisture from the sea?

  34. Happy New Year but I must correct the science. The consensus (we email each other a lot) agrees that rainbows are anthropogenic and that upon contact with terra firma a rainbow produces a hole in the ground due to the strength of its beams which are equivalent to industrial cutting lasers. We have passed our research on to the UN to warn them about the dangers of rainbows.

  35. David L. Hagen (20:05:37)
    Round here the sea level rises 20 feet in one day, twice in fact, don’t tell Al.
    Eternal Father, strong to save,
    Whose arm hath bound the restless wave,
    Who bidd’st the mighty ocean deep
    Its own appointed limits keep:

  36. Friends:
    Just a tip. Those who want good pictures of rainbows should commission a photographer here in Cornwall (extreme SW UK) where the climate is warm and wet so rainbows frequently occur.
    Complete and double rainbows are common in Spring and Autumn here. When I first moved to Cornwall I soon saw a complete rainbow with a complete partner rainbow. I was so excited that I went to tell others who lived near-by but they failed to understand my excitement and did not bother to come out to see such a common event.
    I most recently looked up to see one on 16 December 2009.
    But please do not ask me for photographs because I am a useless photographer.

  37. The further north you go, the lower the angle of the sun tends to be, and the more rainbows you are likely to see, until you get so far north that rain is rare. In the tropics the sun is often too high, and the peak of a rainbow would be below the horizon. Travelling in Scotland in the late summer, however, you many see several rainbows in a single day.

  38. Wow – pre-morning coffee – really screwed that up 🙁 For the record:
    “If you look hard enough, bet you can just see both pots of gold from your house.” Yikes.

  39. Last summer while driving home from Ft. Collins area to Denver on I-25, we witnessed a full double rainbow. It was right after an afternoon rain burst and the sun light was spilling over the Rocky Mountains and being swallowed up by the dark grey clouds of the thunderheads.
    The double bow was nicely highlighted by the dark background.
    I saw one guy pulled over taking pictures. I was extremely jealous, as I had left my camera at home.
    The scene repeated itself several times down the highway. Must have been at least twenty miles of double rainbows.

  40. I have also come across ‘Alexander’s Dark Space’ for the darker band between the two. No-one has yet commented on the other feature of double rainbows; that the colors are in reverse order in the outer bow. The dark space is because light is ‘robbed’ from the interspace to produce the two.

  41. wakeupmaggy (21:07:33) : I believe from past discussions you live south of McClure Pass, I live 5 miles north of Carbondale, CO. We have had a nasty December, but it is much worse than any in the past twenty years I’ve lived here. Last, and previous winters were milder so far, and generally, you area is warmer than mine for a given altitude. I’m at 6600′, and had -14°, -15° and -17°F for the coldest mornings, several at 0° to-10°, and only one day that it got above 32° for a high. Below zero mornings in December have been rare, and a few days in the 40s is normal. A rancher in her 70s here has no memory of a winter like this one.
    To get on topic, here is a double rainbow I caught here in 2006, I was too close to get it all in a single shot, and blended eight to make this. It was within 1 mile, in the valley between Carbondale and Glenwood Springs looking west.

  42. photon without a Higgs (21:20:40) :
    Who is the whistler blower that changed the global warming world!?

    Although we have an FOI act here in UK, we also have a whistleblower protection act as well. But it never works because the Gov will always claim that National Security is at stake. After all, all those 100 year old temperatures are very sensitive data! So if anyone does find out whodunnit, keep it tight and tell no one. This individual has done the world a great service, and must be protected. In a few years time we may find out, but even then his/her career will be finished, because the establishment simply won’t allow it.
    Lovely rainbow Anthony, we also get a lot of doubles over here in Shropshire.

  43. Carsten Arnholm, Norway says:

    Double rainbows are beautiful! With our often low Sun they are not too uncommon over here, like in this shot from my home

    Very nice shot. There, you can really see how it is brighter below the primary rainbow than above it. (I have never really seen a picture where you can clearly see Alexander’s Band because it seems difficult to see the increase in brightness again above the secondary rainbow. That is perhaps not surprising since such a brightness increase comes only from light that has been reflected twice within the drop…which is a fairly small fraction, whereas the increased brightness below the primary rainbow comes from light that has reflected once within the drop.)
    Another thing that one can see a bit in your picture next to the primary rainbow (i.e., just below it) are the supernumerary bows. Unlike the primary and secondary bows, the supernumerary bows cannot be understood using the ray picture of light but are in fact a consequence of interference, i.e., the wave nature of light.
    John K. Sutherland says:

    The dark space is because light is ‘robbed’ from the interspace to produce the two.

    I am not sure if this was meant seriously or as a joke but I will just say that this is not the correct explanation. The reason it is darker is that the primary rainbow represents the maximum angle for which light that reflects once within the drop can emerge…So, there is once-reflected light at smaller angles (i.e., below the rainbow) but none above. As for the secondary bow, it represents the MINIMUM angle for which light that reflects twice within the drop can emerge. So, above the secondary bow, you are seeing light that reflected twice within the drop but you are not seeing any such light below it. The Alexander Dark Band is thus the angular region over which neither light reflected once nor light reflected twice within the drop is reaching the observer.

  44. We saw a treble rainbow in East Anglia this summer. Twice. I’d had no idea that they occurred.

  45. Nice photo.
    Back in September I was driving on I-15 a couple hundred miles south of Salt Lake and had a double rainbow follow along for many miles. The mountains caused just the right amount of lift and being just to the east of the highway were in the perfect location. It was a unique experience.

  46. Steve Keohane (07:17:46) :
    Hello Steve,
    Being a “Show me” chap, I thought Carbondale, that is a “coal valley!” Google maps inform me that the place exists, but are there any coal mines? Ahh haaa! It’s named after http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbondale,_Pennsylvania
    I mention this only because I am supping good red wine whilst sitting in front of an open fire, burning coal and toasting crumpets, (it’s an English thing). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crumpets
    Naturally, outside it’s brass monkey weather. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1239908/Britains-big-freeze-hit-return-work-forecasters-issue-new-ice-alert-drivers.html
    C’est la guerre. Hic!

  47. Be careful, that might be a “rotten rainbow”.
    It could be unstable, and fall on someone…
    Best Wishes to you and your Blog for the New Year !

  48. Nigel S.

    Who bidd’st the mighty ocean deep
    Its own appointed limits keep:

    Good reminder, drawn from:

    8 “Who shut up the sea behind doors
    when it burst forth from the womb,
    9 when I made the clouds its garment
    and wrapped it in thick darkness,
    10 when I fixed limits for it
    and set its doors and bars in place,
    11 when I said, ‘This far you may come and no farther;
    here is where your proud waves halt’?

    Job 38:8-11 NIV
    That understanding that laws of nature existed launched the scientific revolution in searching for those laws. It also provided the foundation to establish the USA by appealing to:

    the laws for Nature and of Nature’s God.

  49. dearieme (07:49:42) :
    We saw a treble rainbow in East Anglia this summer. Twice. I’d had no idea that they occurred.
    A triple rainbow in reportedly originating from East Anglia, eh?
    Was this an “augmented data” rainbow, or was it just a summarized rainbow report based on the “corrected datum” of previous double rainbows in East Anglia sighted elsewhere? We must get Lord Monkton to verify such a finding, else it will not be considered a “peer-reviewed” augmented double rainbow siting from East Anglia. 8<)

  50. What a fantastic view, even sans rainbow! They are wonderful phenomena to witness, and I never miss a chance to marvel when I see one. This one is something else! Wow!
    Congratulations on securing your own little slice of paradise! I hope you have a New Year which is as successful as the past one has been and, please, keep up the great work!

  51. Perry, The Mid-Continental Resources mine closed in 1990, the last coal mine in this immediate area. Just south of here is a major mine still in operation at Somerset, and many trains coal-laden head east along I-70 toward Denver and east, with loads from Utah and western Colorado. Enjoy your crumpets and red wine by the toasty fire.

  52. What hint of a secondary Rainbow are you talking about Anthony ? I’d call that a 2X4 hint in your photograph. Even for my lousy vision, that is a farly prominent secondary, which is usually quite hard to capture.
    But did you find the pot of Gold at the end; presumably the end of a secondary, has a pot of coal chunks.

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