Diamond Dust and Sun Dogs


In keeping up with the weather in my hometown of Birmingham this winter, I am continuously envious of the mild temperatures that have presented themselves this year. On the other hand, here in Anchorage and all across Alaska, we are having one of the hardest (and might I add loooonggggest) winters that most remember!

Those southerners catching me complaining have politely reminded me, "you do live in Alaska, you know!" Well, Alaska or not, I am not happy with the ongoing condition of below zero temperatures, day after day. Then, when it does warm up to above freezing, it begins to snow and snow and will not relent until it has dumped its weight of revenge onto us. This is my third winter here in this great state and I am now in full understanding of the term "snow bird". Wouldn't I love to be able to fly south for the winter!!

Thought it's been extremely cold and I have seen more snow than ever in my life, I have also seen some very interesting phenomenon this year. Yesterday, in the late morning, I was leaving my office to make an appointment a couple miles down the road. As I headed to the end of the parking lot around the building towards my car, the sun hit me and I realized that the tiny flakes in the air were not snow, but ice crystals. I stopped in my tracks and held out my hand; they were like diamond dust floating in the air and with the bright sun on me the colors of the rainbow were reflecting on each one. It was a beautiful sight! I wished I had the time to stop and try to capture this diamond dust in a picture, but it just wasn't going to happen now.

Returning, about thirty minutes later, I met one of my associates going into the office. Being a southern girl herself from Georgia, she has been thrilled with all the snow that has arrived for her first winter in Alaska. She giggled as she said, "it's snowing again." I told her I didn't think that was snow. "It's more of a crystal. Heck, it's sunny with no clouds, I don't know where the stuff is coming from," I said as I realized this couldn't even be coming from the sky. We went to the window and pulled the blinds to investigate this strange event and then we saw it. There was a beautiful rainbow to the left of the church across the street and in the middle of the rainbow was a "sun" reflection. We both gazed in wonder and then realized that there was yet another rainbow on the other side of that church and it also had a reflection of the sun right in the middle of it! At that moment, with our mouths hanging open we realized that it was a true circle of a rainbow. The sun shone brightly right in between that huge glowing arch, it was a gorgeous sight! I have never seen anything like it.

Jodi, frantically started to run out to get a better look, so I handed her my camera as I had to take an incoming phone call. While she was outside she ran into another onlooker and they explained to her that this phenomenon is called "snow dogs" or " sun halo".






The pictures do not do this justice! The sun was so low and bright that it made it hard to look toward it for very long.
But, there was definitely a full circle of rainbow colors with two sun spot reflections around the sun!
I read an article about snow dogs and it said that the ice crystals in the air and the sun halos are connected and usually happen simultaneously.
Just another exciting part of living in Alaska!

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