Why storms produce beautiful sunsets, sunrises
Air molecules love clean air, which means more violet hues in sky
Following a big storm, Florida's sunsets and sunrises really let us have it with vivid colors, but have you ever wondered why?
The same storms that leave destruction in their wake also create perfect conditions for a brightly colored sky.
The first thing to know about a sunset or sunrise is what is really going on to produce those colors.
Sunlight is composed of a spectrum of colors. Different colors have different wavelengths; for example violets and blues have shorter wavelengths compared to oranges and reds.
The color of the sky is produced by an effect called scattering – or the redirection of sunlight by air molecules, which are very tiny particles, according to Stephen Corfidi, with the NOAA/NWS Storm prediction center, who has written extensively on the topic of sunsets.
Corfidi writes that the main reason the sky puts on such a show after a storm such as a hurricane is that clean air is the perfect ingredient for brightly colored sunrises and sunsets.
Hurricanes produce a lot of rain, which washes the air of pollutants allowing air molecules to easily scatter. The tiny air molecules are closer in size to the wavelength of violet light than to red. That’s why after a storm sunset colors typically lean toward purple because the air molecules are loving that clean air and easily scattering.
Pure air scatters violet light three to four times more effectively than it does the longer wavelengths,” according to Corfidi. “In fact, were it not for the fact that human eyes are more sensitive to blue light than to violet, the clear daytime sky would appear violet instead of blue.”
Clouds also play a role in creating colorful shows in the sky.
Certain clouds can produce very beautiful red- and orange-tinted sunsets because they reflect red and orange light to the ground and don’t allow a lot of blue light — which, remember, means more scattered particles -- from the upper atmosphere down.
The takeaway: After a storm has passed, expect a show worth waiting for.
Keep scrolling for more beautiful Central Florida sunsets and sunrises from News 6 and ClickOrlando.com readers.
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