I've got a bit of a "picture hangover" this morning...I don't know about you, but looking at large groups of "hits" like those National Geo contest winners we featured yesterday gives me a too-much-cotton-candy-at-the-carnival feeling.
Plus, I blew some shots I took. We had some extreme weather here—as I've remarked before, Wisconsin used to be north of Tornado Alley but has lately moved into it—and a cold front raced (at 65mph/104kph) across the state yesterday evening, kicking up storms as it went, including at least one tornado.
I saw something I don't think I've ever seen before—I was out on the porch at dusk watching the weather, when a bright white line appeared on the southern horizon. As I watched, it moved up the sky—rather quickly.
It was a contrail, being pushed along all in one piece, sideways, by the fast-moving winds in the upper atmopshere. I grabbed the camera, unfortunately forgetting that I had just been taking a picture of an LP and had the exposure compensation dialed way down. So these pictures didn't "come out," I'm afraid. (D'oh!) Sorry about that. Still, you can get an idea:
Only two minutes and forty-four seconds separate these two shots, so you can imagine how fast the air up there was moving. The contrail scudded across the sky like a wind-driven cloud.
The contrail moved all the way across the sky without breaking up, disappearing to the north, over the house. At one point, an invisible jet streaked along parallel to it, laying down another crisp contrail as it went.
Back inside, I switched on the news and heard something I thought was funny. The Fox News weatherman said something like this (I'm paraphrasing): "If you're in Walworth [where the tornado was sighted] and you get any pictures, you can send them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Not that we're telling you to go outside and take pictures for us. In fact, the opposite. We'd rather you stay someplace safe. Indoors. Preferably in your basement. But if you do take any pictures, you can email them to us...."
From your computer in the basement. Heh.
It's cold and pretty today, and no one was killed in all the atmospheric commotion last evening. As for yours truly, I think I need to consign myself to do a little penance with the instruction book today. Wish that K-5 would get here....
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Original contents copyright 2010 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved.
Featured Comment by Tim F: "You saw a donuts-on-a-rope contrail. Most people think that it is caused by pulse detonation wave engines, which are supposed to power whatever the Air Force has to replace the SR-71. Nobody really knows for sure, except that those contrails often come with a buzzing sound and always seem to follow something going really fast."
Mike replies: Tim, here's a frame that shows more clearly the donuts-on-a-rope effect:
Featured Comment by Dave: "The donuts on a rope effect is actually caused by wing tip vortices. I have a close up aerial view of this effect on my blog here."