Thursday, February 18, 2016

Firefall at Yosemite: A Rare Spectacle

While Minnesota endures uneventful winter weather over the coming days, I thought I'd share an amazing spectacle that I unexpectedly happened into last weekend while visiting Yosemite National Park. (Dirty secret: I went there solely because I was missing snow.)

For those who haven't been to Yosemite before, it's notable for incredibly steep, tall and distinct rock formations. In spring, melting snow (assuming it snows) fuels a series of widely photographed waterfalls.

I was driving out of the valley floor in hastening darkness and noticed a bunch of people taking photos of what I assumed to be "just another falls." But this one was different. The setting sun lit the the falls in just the right way so that the water glowed like lava.

I had no idea what a rare spectacle I'd seen until I came back to the Bay Area and saw a Facebook post from KTVU. As I read up on it, I learned that it's a sight that's only seen certain weeks in February when snow and melting conditions are just right. To say it was awe-inspiring is somehow an understatement.

And for good measure, here are a few other pictures I took at Yosemite that incredible weekend. Enjoy!









36 comments:

  1. Truly beautiful sights Bill. I am envious. In all the years I lived in California never made it to Yosemite.

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    1. That's a bummer! You must have lived in So. Cal?

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    2. I also lived in California (SoCal) for many years and never made it to Yosemite....not sure what I was thinking because I went to all the other Nat'l Parks (including Death Valley). Great pictures, Bill! Thanks for sharing.

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  2. I really need to visit Yosemite. Been to California many times, not sure why I haven't visited.

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  3. Absolutely beautiful! Thanks for sharing, Bill.

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  4. Awesome photos Bill...I love the sun-lit waterfall. Now I have to add this visit to my "bucket list"

    Just a word of caution. My I recommend you watermark your photos of this caliber. It's easy for one to snatch up and take credit or even make money off them.

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  5. Interesting enough, WeatherNation posted this on their website
    http://news.weathernationtv.com/2016/02/19/watch-horsetail-falls-turns-firefalls-yosemite-national-park-2016/

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  6. Bill, you are indeed a very gifted photographer. The Lake Superior photo at the top of this website is another beautiful example of your work. I agree with MNMOXIE, you should watermark your photos. The photos on WeatherNation pale in comparison to these. Gifted photographer and gifted with words as well--It's raining here in MN and I'm trying to remember your downright poetic quote about winter rain. Thanks. MM ;-)

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  7. Damn Bill. I just looked that these pics on a bigger screen. They are awesome. Great eye and technique.

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    1. Thanks, Dave! Hard to take a bad pic at Yosemite!

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  8. Looks like we have a potential storm to talk about next Tue/Wed. Novak just noted it and the GFS is showing it. Let the discussions begin!

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    1. Hmm... NWS doesn't seem too excited?

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    2. Latest GFS really downgraded it. Strange that one run was so strong. Long-term forecasting at its finest!

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  9. Winter is over guys.
    We need to come to terms with that.

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    1. This is Minnesota--"it ain't over til it's over." This is just a spring teaser. March is typically our second snowiest month and April's been known to toss in a quick snow storm as well. I'd love it if you were right (today was fantastic!), but I've got my doubts. MM ;-)

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  10. No matter how much the model guidance flip-flops over the next several days, I still feel that something decent is going to develop next week over the Plains/Upper Midwest. The tight temp gradient & baroclinic zone are too good to disappoint.

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  11. Now that Spring is here (like that took much effort) what does the severe weather season look like? Btw, I am serious about Spring being here. Winter arrived a month late and left a month early. Yes, we will have the occasion cold day (such as today) and a little bit of snow, but all of that will be fleeting. Temperatures will be back in the 50's by the end of the week. Here's hoping La Nina brings us a real winter next season.

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    1. In theory you should expect a more active severe weather season. However a couple of years ago Joe Bastardi mentioned that the warming at 700mb associated with most el-nino episodes can actually limit that. The last big severe weather season in MN was in 2011 after a very snowy and cold winter and it was a la-nina situation.
      To me, we still just do not understand enough of the atmosphere to be able to predict so much in advance.
      That winter is over (did it ever even start this year?) and spring is here is obvious. I think we can all agree on that.

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  12. Yep, winter is over. Like Sam said, there will possibly be an odd cold day or inch of snow, but other than that I think we can stick a fork in this one.

    It really wasn't too terrible of a winter either way. I'd say there were enough cold snaps to call it winter although it was relatively warm overall. Two solid storms despite us not really getting a whole lot of snow. Enough to just call it a winter, but not a harsh one by any stretch of the imagination. Being over by the beginning of March is just a bonus to me.

    The severe storm season should be an interesting one to watch. I'm not too optimistic about our chances after the last couple years, but I think the south will have a pretty active season.

    Our first thunder chances come Tuesday!

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  13. A beautiful snowfall at this hour in Apple Valley. Everything is turning white. Of course everything should have already been white. It's only the first of March after all. It's sad to say that in all likelihood this will be the last snowfall of the season. As others have said, what a terrible excuse for a winter this was. I too am hoping La Nina brings winter back next season. Heck, even a neutral ENSO should do the trick!

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  14. What a glorious couple of days. Just a heads up for the middle of the month around the 15th. All three major global models, the ECMWF, GFS, and the Gem are advertising a strong low pressure system moving into the northern plains during this time frame. Currently we seem to be mostly is the warm sector, as time moves on we could see this low pressure system drop south and east, but I don't think that will happen. The way things look now, if the models are correct this far out, we may see a severe event. Stay tuned.

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  15. Paul Huttner on his MPR blog this evening says dont put away the snow shovels just yet....he is hinting at a colder and snowier last half of March. Of course he is saying this by following the GFS...so dont know how trustworthy it is. Time will tell as always! But techically its still winter, isnt it?

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  16. Dave Dahl on the KSTP website used the words "monster" and "stuck" and "big trouble" pertaining to a large and strong low pressure system for next week. I know it is Dave Dahl but Bring It!!!

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    1. Nothing is official until Novak starts a video!

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  17. Plymouth Weather LoverMarch 11, 2016 at 5:12 PM

    BTW, the anonymous on March 10 at 5:30 was me--Plymouth Weather Lover. I just hit the wrong submission button. I just don't want anyone to think and worry that there could be another "Bring It" person out there. I'm sure most of you lost sleep over this possibility!! So, Bring It!! And so true about nothing being official until Novak starts a video. Truth! Based on his last tweet, one might be coming!

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  18. 70 - a new record!

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  19. Hard to ignore the latest model guidance & impressive looking atmospheric dynamics. Something substantial is on the way for TUE - WED. Still a big ? is how much cold air will be available for this massive system. Regardless, the potential exists for 6"+ of snow over a good chunk of the Upper Midwest.

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  20. I'm shocked that the WPC doesn't show any potential for wintery weather over central/southern MN & nw WI for mid-week. Don't they realize it is MARCH in MN?

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  21. Plymouth Weather LoverMarch 18, 2016 at 1:46 PM

    I'm not a fan of evolution, but I love anything related to the "evolution" of a big snowstorm which is part of the NWS discussion from this morning. And Novak is hinting again. A big storm to close out March? Bring it!!!

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    1. When you stopped reading at the word evolution, then you soon discover the narrative you are trying to paint is filled with much uncertainty to really little chance at all. Look at the temps next week before you paint your pictures of snowy landscapes. And of course read past the word evolution.

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  22. most of you may be asleep and that is too bad, your missing one hell of a snow squall/snow shower pushing thru the south/central west metro currently. 1-2" in less then a hour!

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    1. I was wondering if the metro core would see anything out of this system. Looked like the core was in a dead zone. In the far NW area we had light snow all day with some snow globe periods. It was still going at11PM last night. This AM had a solid inch on the ground. Now at 4PM it is 90% gone. Nice while it lasted.I think the problem is that PWL is too concerned with the BRING IT and not enough dancing :)
      By the way, is the snow bet finished yet? If so,who won this year

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  23. Bill, possible decent sized storm for Wed here. Novak posted on his Facebook page and GFS is showing around 14" (which seems REAL optimistic). How about a new thread for the last storm of the winter (hopefully!)

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