Weather in the Foothills

“At one hot, faraway world, it’s always cloudy with a chance of iron rain.”

~ Cape Canaveral, Florida

These words are a real eye-catcher – hot, faraway, cloudy and rain. Taking a closer look, I realized they were not meant for our home in the universe. Before we take off to a distant location, far beyond the visible nighttime stars, let’s recap our most recent weather activity. 

After a good week weather-wise, the 2019-20 Rainfall Summary reached 12.20 inches – a gain of 3½ inches! With 23-24 inches as the seasonal average, there’s a great deal of catching up to be done. Spring’s arrival and summer’s approach leaves any measurable amount of precipitation in the dust.

Astronomers used the European Southern Observatory’s ground-based telescope ESPRESSO, located in Chile’s Atacama Desert, to observe the roque planet PSO J318.5-22. Unlike most planets it does not orbit a star; we – the Earth – orbits the Sun (“star.”) Wandering alone in the dark outer reaches of the universe, this far away world creates its own weather system.

The researchers believe the dayside blazing temperatures on PSOJ318.22 are hot enough to turn molecules into atoms and metal into vapor to create iron vapor. Strong winds gusting at more than 11,000 mph (18,000 kph) constantly sweep some of the vaporized iron from the day to the night side of the planet. Inside the day-to-night transition zone, clouds appear to form as temperatures begin to drop. Similar to here on Earth, as the clouds gather it begins to rain … except in this case the droplets are not water (H2O) but liquid iron FE. It’s this iron element in the planet’s atmosphere that makes it observable from Earth.

Back at home, from now into next week an uncertain chance for rain is forecast. At this point the amounts aren’t too impressive. Without a doubt, we’ll have cloudy conditions as weak storm systems travel through. The extended hours of sunlight, plus the current weather, make for ideal sunset watching.

Sue Kilpatrick is a Crescenta Valley resident and
Official Skywarn Spotter for the National Weather Service.
Reach her at