Mount Shasta broods beneath glowing lenticulars during the winter solstice sunrise.
December 2021 has already had a good dose of snow but another, prolonged storm is moving in. This one is forecasted to last until almost the New Year and dump a fair amount of snow. There has been a nice lull in the weather, which has brought some welcome sunshine and some awesome cloud formations. This culminated on the solstice, which featured one of the most spectacular lenticular shows Mount Shasta has hosted in quite a while. It was a great way to usher in Christmas and the big storm!
Though Sunday saw some really interesting clouds, the day was generally very overcast and the light was really muted. Monday was different, with blue sky, ample light and some interesting lenticulars forming over the mountain. I hoped that they would stick around until sunset, to get them all lit up in the alpenglow.
The clouds did make it to sunset, but the sky had grown more overcast and blocked out all the light as the sun set. Though disappointing, it was still a beautiful day and one worth documenting in images. That accomplished, I reckoned that would be it until the storm arrived.
Later Monday night, I was surprised to see, as the moon rose, that the lenticular had not collapsed but had actually frown stronger and more defined. Often lenticulars will dissipate as the night weather patterns set in after the sunset. If they maintain their integrity into the night, there is a very strong likelihood that they will persist until morning. This being the case, I made plans to get up early and see what the clouds presented in the early morning hours.
Even though it was dark, I could tell that the clouds had maintained through the night. Though everything was not perfectly clear, I could tell there was at least one massive lenticular stack. I headed off to Truchas Ridge, hoping to witness the spectacle from that magnificent vantage point. Rather than head to Artist’s Point, I thought Panorama Point would make a better sunrise vista. This certainly proved to be the case. As the sky lightened, I could see there were other interesting clouds as well. The solstice promised not to disappoint! The light, however, proved frustratingly fleeting and almost as quickly as the clouds had lit up the light began to fade. Thankfully, I was able to capture some shots while the light was at its peak.
Not all the interesting clouds were focused located above Mount Shasta. Mount Eddy and China Mountain had a fantastic wave formation high overhead. This one seemed so large it likely stretched all the way to the Trinity Alps 20 miles to the west.
Indeed, it seemed as though the entire sky had something interesting going on in it. The view from Panorama Point certianly justified the name!
Once the light had faded completely, and with the sun just breeching the horizon, I decided to head home. However, on the way back the sun broke out from behind the clouds and revealed the lenticular was still in fine form. I headed to one of my favorite spots and proceeded to indulge in one last round of images. How could I resist such sublime beauty?
It was an epic solstice morning and quite gratifying to have been out to capture it. However, it was quickly overtaken by the gathering storm. The clouds closed in and the lenticular lost its definition as the weather worsened. By evening, a little snow fell, a harbinger of the storm that is rolling in. The snow is supposed to start falling this morning and sustain until well past Christmas. I hope it is a big storm and leaved a deep snowpack, which would be a great way to start the winter. It would be a gift. Merry Christmas!