Virga Illuminated by the Setting Sun, Velarde, NM, September 26, 2011

by John Farley

As I was driving back from an afternoon fishing on the Rio Grande, I was catching up with a weak weather disturbance moving southward over northern New Mexico. It was triggering convection, but the air was too dry for the precipitation to reach the ground, resulting in virga (precipitation not reaching the ground). As the setting sun illuminated the virga, it resulted in quite a spectacular scene, as illustrated by these two photos:

All I had was a point-and-shoot camera, but still enough for some decent shots. Brilliant displays like this last for only a relatively short time just before sunset - before that the sun is blocked by the clouds and after that, below the horizon.

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