Weather in the Foothills

A sun dog over Ventura Photo by Doug Kilpatrick
A sun dog over Ventura
Photo by Doug Kilpatrick

“I often think that the night is more alive and more richly colored than the day.”~ Vincent Van Gogh

The sunset – a “sun dog,” clouds and misty rains – were placed perfectly in view of the deep- blue Pacific Ocean. Last Saturday afternoon we headed up the coast to celebrate our anniversary and graciously accepted these unexpected gifts of nature.

Just as a good dog will follow its master, a sun dog will always travel with the sun in the sky. No one knows for certain, but most likely the comparison gave the meteorological phenomena the name it’s commonly known by. Scientifically a sun dog is known as a parhelion, or the plural parhelia, as they are often paired with one on each side of the sun. Interestingly, they are segments of a halo around the sun.

You can’t have a sun dog unless high-altitude cirrus clouds are present. Forming at 16,000-40,000 ft., these clouds appear wispy and thin or as thin silky patches. Cirrus is composed of minute ice crystals forming during cold periods or in colder regions. When the sun’s rays reach the crystals, light is reflected and refracted creating sun dogs. They are always 22 degrees from each side of the sun and at an equal elevation. Most often they go unnoticed, being outshined by the sun. Viewers who block out the sun by standing in shade or wearing polarized sunglasses may have a visual advantage. If you are able to catch the rare sight of a sun dog, consider yourself lucky. They are beautiful and appear as a quick brush stroke against a clouded sky created from a pallet of rainbow-colors.

We made it to the beach just as the sun set. The evening sky was clear from the few lingering storm clouds. Due to the sun’s angle, the most vivid sunsets occur during the fall and winter months. The night sky transformed and was “more richly colored than the day.”

Weather-wise an ongoing battle between the onshore and offshore winds continues. Yesterday, the Santa Ana winds prevailed. When the CV Weekly arrived today, cooler temperatures and low clouds moved in. On Friday, when weak offshore winds resume, there will be clear skies and warm temperatures once again. Daytime highs around 80 degrees and nighttime lows in the upper 50s are the five-to-seven day forecast. Have your umbrella ready as weather scientists are working on a rainy-day package for next week.

Estimated arrival time – Thursday or Friday.