UW Prof: Sunday's sensational sunset a 'trifecta' of perfect conditions

Photo: Steve Scholle

It's been the talk of the town this week, the amazing sunset we had Sunday night across the Puget Sound region.

A lot of people have been asking what caused such brilliant colors: Wildfire smoke from Eastern Washington? Lucky cloud formations?

Yes, and yes, according to University of Washington Atmospheric Sciences professor Cliff Mass. And, add in some evaporating rain for good measure.

Mass wrote an excellent blog on the topic after researching some of the atmospheric conditions in play Sunday night. (And if you haven't bookmarked his blog yet, now would be a good time.)

Mass said the late sunsets and time of year give us extended twilight hours, plus we had a perfect scenario of a line of showers and thunderstorms providing an easel, but clearing on horizon to allow the sunlight through.

To top it off, Mass said we had just enough easterly flow in the hours before the sunset to bring in a little wildfire smoke from Eastern Washington, and the shimmering rains in the sky added another element of reflection for the brilliant reds.

"Folks...this sunset was liking winning the Trifecta at a horse race," Mass wrote. "An amazing syncing of various factors enhanced the show. If you saw it, you were very fortunate."

Mass has more details on the sunset's formation and some additional photos in his blog entry.