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Photo: There's a lot going on in this scene over Seattle

A rain shower falls over North Seattle as anti-crepuscular rays shine behind the city's Skyline on March 24, 2018 (Photo: Paul Scearce)

Local photographer Paul Scearce headed out to Bainbridge Island to see what kind of beauty the skies would provide over Seattle on Saturday afternoon.

Well, nature did not disappoint.

On the left side of the photo he caught an isolated rain shower falling from a rather modest looking cumulus cloud. When we talk about isolated showers in the days after storm passes where most people will remain dry -- but not everyone -- this is a perfect illustration.

Here are some photos of the same shaft, courtesy of the Space Needle web camera:

Cool, eh? But ever wonder what it looks like to be in the middle of one? The Space Needle knows -- a passing shower earlier that morning around 7 a.m. had a close up to the vertical shafts:

And another view:

University of Washington Atmospheric Sciences professor Cliff Mass in his weather blog went into more details about these "precipitation shafts" and how the weather changes near those shafts -- not just the obvious rain but the wind and temperature changes too.

But look on the right side of the photos for another optical treat: anti-crepuscular rays -- those are the "spotlight" lights emanating from the horizon. Here's a zoom in from Paul:

Here's another view from the Space Needle:

This is the opposite effect from when you see the sun rays coming out of the clouds toward the ground -- you know, the scenes that look like they should be accompanied by angelic harp music or church choir. Those are officially called crepuscular rays.

The anti-crepuscular rays focus on the point exactly opposite of the sun, and are only visible when your back is to the sun when the sun is getting low on the horizon. According to Atmospheric Optics, they too are just caused by seeing sunlight from holes in the clouds and dust particles or water droplets in the air scatter the light to make them visible.

But the angled lines are a but of an optical illusion.

"Think of a long straight road, it converges towards the horizon but turn around and it also converges to the opposite horizon. Crepuscular and anticrepuscular rays behave in the same way," the site said.


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