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Environment

A Time Lapse Shows Scudding Clouds Blown by Crazy Winds as the Arctic Moved on

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Coot Lake in Boulder, CO, 3:30 p.m., Jan. 5, 2015. (@ Tom Yulsman) Pic(s) of the Day The Arctic went out with a blast where I live in Colorado today — actually, with winds that blasted at up to 90 miles per hour up in the foothills of the Rockies west of me. It was zero degrees when I woke up, and then the winds began howling. By the late morning we went from the 20s to what seemed like balmy (mid-50s) in just a couple of hours. And the winds kept up all afternoon. So I grabbed my iPhone and camera gear and headed for a small lake near Boulder. It occurred to me that a time lapse video would convey the windiness. But my camera can't do that without a separate piece of gear — which I don't own. And I didn't have a way to mount my iPhone — which can do time lapse — on a tripod. So I braced the phone on a railing and stood there for about five minutes as the phone captured frame after frame after frame after... The animated gif above is the result. It's a little herky jerky because it was handheld, and the wind was knocking me around pretty strongly. But you get the idea. Look closely at the high clouds in the upper right. See that iridescence? It's spectacular, I think. This phenomenon results from diffraction by tiny water droplets or ice crystals in the clouds, which act in essence like little prisms. You might also notice the people out on the ice. They were ice fishermen. Yes, it is has been very cold around these parts lately. But the big blob of frigid Arctic air moved east on those winds today. Thank goodness!

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