A small lenticular covers the summit of Mount Shasta.
There has been some great lenticular theatrics in the sky over Mount Shasta the last few days. They have been strong, full-featured formations that are the kind of clouds lenticular hunters are always questing after. There were two notable events and interestingly, though not surprisingly, they both presaged a light snow that fell in the area. Between both storms, we got about three inches. Not too much, but enough to turn things white. Unfortunately, neither cloud had the strength to last until sunset. If they had, especially the formation that occurred on Saturday, they could have counted among the top tier of events I have observed.
There was not a notable formation on Mount Shasta on Thursday morning but by midday it had begun to gather strength. This particular cloud seemed quite robust and it held its form really well. Hovering just to the northeast of Mount Shasta, it made a dramatic companion to the mountain. I was excited for the sunset possibilities with this one.
Late in the afternoon it reached its crescendo, taking on a really fantastic form. However, by the time I got north of it, the cloud was already losing shape. It was still interesting, but it was obvious that it was not holding together the way I had hoped. Making matters even worse, a think bank of clouds to the west soon blotted out the sun completely and muted all the colors. Even though the lenticular held on, albeit in diminished form until dark, it turned out to be a lackluster sunset. Still, the sky had been graced with a great display and I was not too disappointed.
Friday had no unusual activity. The storm that passed through Thursday night basically broke up by afternoon and there were lots of clouds, but nothing to really catch my interest. That was not to be the case the following day.
Saturday morning started off with a small disk clinging to the summit of Mount Shasta. There were no other clouds in the sky. However, by the time I reached a southern position from which to observe the mountain and the light of the rising sun, a small wafer of a cloud had formed high overhead south of the summit. I pointed out to my son who had accompanied me and told him that it would likely turn into a lenticular. I’ve seen enough of these things to know when one is likely to form.
Sure enough, by late morning, it had expanded into an epic array of lenticulars scattered all over the sky south of Mount Shasta. The mountain itself was cloaked in a large dome of cloud that exhibited layers on the edges typical of a lenticular stack. It was a really spectacular display of clouds.
I was really hoping this one would hold on until sunset but, alas, it did not and was gone by early afternoon. Near sunset it seemed to try to gather a little steam and formed a weak disk east of Mount Shasta but it never came to anything. By the time the sun had set, it too was long gone.
In the end, I am still on the hunt for that grand sunset that comes along two or three times each winter. Neither of these lenticulars ended up being the one but they sure were a heap of fun to track and photograph. As always, I remain grateful for the opportunity to witness their beauty, regardless of whether or not they ended the way I wanted them to.