I noted earlier that this past fall and winter had not been a very good season for lenticulars. That assessment has certainly changed over the last couple weeks. I previously wrote about a series of lenticular episodes that all occurred within a week’s time. Now, with a large snow storm looming, there has been another series of clouds, which have, at times, been quite impressive. However, if a complaint were to be lodged against this particular series of formations, it is that getting the clouds to take shape when the light is best has been elusive. Nonetheless, this has produced some truly spectacular sunsets, for which I have been grateful to witness!
The first cloud manifested on Sunday. Not only was there a nice cap on Mount Shasta but there was a nicely formed stack hovering to the southwest. Frustratingly, by the time I headed out to capture some images, the stack had diminished to a single disk. Still, the cap remained nicely formed and still felt worth the effort to get out and prepare for sunset. I decided to head up to Echo Point, which has a particularly spectacular vista and settled in to watch the light shift and see what the cloud had in store.
Unfortunately, the cloud had nothing in store at all. It continued to dissipate to near insignificance. There was just a vestigial crown clinging to the summit and little else to indicate there had been an excellent lenticular. Even the lone disk, which hovered to the southwest had gone. However, what was lacking in lenticulars was more than made up for in the warm glow of a truly marvelous sunset. The alpenglow was magnificent and the entire landscape seemed to radiate a warm sensation. Echo Point did not disappoint!
The next morning I headed north again, feeling the clouds weren’t done. I was correct, as the southwestern stack was back in force, with a firmly coalesced shape and a commanding presence near Mount Shasta. Where the previous night had been a stunning light show, this time the light was barely evident and the land was drab since clouds to the east blocked most of the sunlight. It was still a good morning, graced with a notable cloud.
Around midday, the stack was still persisting and even the cap on Mount Shasta was threatening to reform. Unfortunately it never really gathered enough strength to advance past the wispy tendrils of a delicate formation. Still, I anticipated the sunset would be grand and determined to head back out to Truchas Ridge.
Climbing up to Panorama Point, the light was great and the view was terrific as always. However, the lenticular stack had flattened out and lost much of its definition. Still, it caught the afternoon light well and glowed as the sun sank. I was hopeful things might change before all the light was gone.
My hope was not in vain. At the last minute, before all the light had faded, the cloud began to form a new stack of disks over the old one. These had nice layers that still caught the last bit of light that was being offered before dark set in. Not only this, but a concave cavity had opened up on the bottom of the cloud, returning something of the lenticular’s previous shape to the formation. Though the light had faded on the hills of the Shasta Valley, it was still a nice finish.
Yet, all was not done. With the storm set to arrive on Tuesday around noon, there was one last bit of a lenticular over the mountain, heralding the arrival of the storm. By noon, Mount Shasta was lost to the storm clouds and rain and snow had begun to fall. We are in for another round of cold and snow, which is welcome, after the nice break we have had after January’s deluge. Still, the winter had been long, considering snow fell November 1st and has been consistent since. Spring fever is setting in…