The Long Winter is finally coming to an end! After over 5 months of nearly constant rain and snow we may have finally turned the corner and entered into the spring season. It’s been over a week since the last major storm passed through the Mount Shasta. Though we have gotten a bit of rain and some small dustings of snow, the precipitation finally abated and, as befitting Easter, the sun came out, the temperatures climbed until they were almost warm and the snow began to melt. It was a glorious burst of new life and reinvigorated those who were exhausted from the seemingly interminable Long Winter.
Making the coming of spring even greater than it already would have been, there was a spectacular three day lenticular gracing Mount Shasta over the Easter weekend. Indeed, this was perhaps the finest lenticular event of the entire winter season. The lenticular ended up having a surprising amount of durability and it changed pretty dramatically over the three days it clung to the mountain. What a glorious way to leave the winter behind!
The formation began as a simple, subtle stack over the summit of the mountain. It wasn’t a grand sight but it was reassuring, since it had been a while since Mount Shasta had even been visible, let alone have anything noteworthy in the sky around it. The cloud cover had been fairly constant for a long time this winter.
Easter was the next morning and after church it was time for an Easter egg hunt. However, there was still a couple feet of snow on the ground around my house. It wasn’t exactly egg hunting conditions.
Not to be deterred, my wife and I loaded the kids up and headed out to Truchas Ridge. It was blissfully warm, the sky was blue and the grass was green. Spring had been hard at work in the Shasta Valley and the conditions were perfect. With the eggs set up, the kids had a fantastic hunt. Meanwhile, the lenticular provided a spectacular backdrop.
While on the way out to the ridge, we stopped to capture a shot of the lenticular that had formed to the northeast of Mount Shasta. The original cloud was still present on the summit, but it had lost some of its definition. There were other, lenticular-like formations elsewhere in the sky as well but the stack near the mountain was by far the most interesting.
As always with lenticulars, the formation is not static and the stack kept growing, replicating, shrinking, separating and constantly changing from one form to another. It is the kind of show you can lose a hour in easily.
It was obvious that big things were afoot, since the sky was active throughout the area. It was a pretty amazing spectacle and one that only made the Easter egg hunt more fun (at least for my wife and I).
Later that day, as sunset approached, I headed back to Truchas Ridge and made my way up to Echo Point. The sky had gotten overcast, but I was hopeful that the sun might break through and cast some great light. It was not meant to be, but the view of Mount Shasta and the lenticulars lining the horizon over Echo Park was inspiring. It was an excellent end to an excellent Easter.
I wasn’t sure if the lenticular would survive the overcast sky during the night but rain was actually forecasted for Monday night so I though there was a reasonable chance that the lenticular would stick around until then. I got up early in the morning and my suspicions were confirmed. Not only had the cap over Mount Shasta and the stack to the northeast persisted through the night, but there were additional lenticular forming further east. Needless to say, it was a magnificent sunrise.
On my way home after sunrise, I had to stop and capture an image of the stack. Though the size had shrunk dramatically, it was now augmented by a fine example of cloud iridescence. The rainbow fringe of the cloud contrasted against the dark formation and the blue sky. I thought the sunrise had been awesome, but this was a fine conclusion to the morning.
As I was in and out of town today, I had a continuous string of opportunities to observe the lenticular and it changed. The stack had gone by mid-morning but the cap over the summit continued to fluctuate throughout the day.
Naturally, I had to head out in the evening again. My wife, ever gracious and patient with me, let me go and I headed north. The sky was full of interesting formations again. The cap had grown and covered a significant amount of Mount Shasta. Another collection of lenticulars had formed northeast of the mountain again, this time a bit further away the the previous stack. Other clouds in a variety of shapes crowded the sky, casting ominous shadows on the valley’s hills.
Though Mount Shasta was largely covered, the lenticular proved to be entertaining and seemed to perpetually spin, separating out into new layers before they collapsed in on each other before another new series of layers coalesced again. It is a hypnotic performance.
In the end the stack came together in magnificent form, even if it was further away from Mount Shasta than I would have liked. The clouds to the west kept the sunlight from generating much alpenglow but the scale of the clouds was spectacle enough. In fact, it was more than enough. It was terrific.
It really feels like we have turned a corner here in Mount Shasta. The sun has been constant, the temperatures noticeably warmer and the snow is melting. Even though it is raining as I write this (Monday night) it is not cold. The winter may have been long but the land has been given the moisture it needed and for that I am quite grateful. I am also grateful that spring is here. It should up in dramatic fashion.