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Why are our sunsets so colorful right now? - 04/08/14

At some point in your life, you've stopped to stare at a beautiful sunset or sunrise.  Lately, it seems that there have been more colorful sunsets than usual in Central Texas.
Why is that? It is the time of year? Pollution?

Lets break it down..
THE BASICS
First off, clear blue skies appear blue to us because of scattering.  Sunlight is composed of all colors, but since air molecules are so small, sunlight scatters blue much more effectively than any other color.
Now, at sunrise and sunset, the light must travel increasingly longer paths and is scattered by more air molecules. So by the time it reaches our eye, most of the blue light has been scattered out of the beam, leaving the oranges and reds.

IS IT THE DUST THAT CREATES NICE SUNSETS?
Not really.  Otherwise, London, New York, and Los Angeles would have breath-taking skies! In fact, according to Stephen F. Corfidi with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), clear air is the key to the brilliant colors in sunrises and sunsets.

IS IT THE TIME OF YEAR?
Corfidi states that since the air circulation is more sluggish in the summer and it's the time year we see the most smog and haze (sunset killers), late Fall and Winter provide the best conditions for sunrise and sunset viewing!

CLOUDS HELP
Sunsets can be gorgeous with not a cloud in the sky, but the most impressive sunrises and sunsets usually have several clouds to bounce the light off of.  However, not just any cloud will do.  The best clouds are mid to high level cirrus and cumulus clouds.

Stephen F. Corfidis full report, The Colors of Sunset and Twilight http://www.spc.noaa.gov/publications/corfidi/sunset/

We've already seen so many beautiful sunrises and sunsets in Central Texas. (The pictures included are courtesy Josiah Tijerina, Adrian Gutierrez, and Rich P.)

If you snap a picture of our beautiful sky, send it to shareit@keyetv.com or post it on our Facebook or Twitter pages to share the love!

Have a great weekend everyone and enjoy the view!
-Allison
Meteorologist Allison Miller
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