Weather in the Foothills

“Softly the evening came. The sun from the western horizon like a magician extended his golden wand o’er the landscape; twinkling vapors arose; and sky and water and forest seemed all on fire at the touch, and melted and mingled together.”
~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

“Why is your house facing the wrong way?” I was often asked. To answer was awkward ¬– as was the architectural design of our house. Nowadays its style would be considered a midcentury modern. Supposedly an artist designed and built this dream home high in the foothills of La Crescenta in the late 1940s. All the other homes on this side of the street naturally faced to the north. Wanting to capture a full view of the setting sun, he strategically placed the house facing to the west. Three plate-glass windows were installed along the west-facing wall to accommodate his passion. His “dream home” became ours in 1958. Until 2005, and the passing of our mom, we revered the view. Our house was very much facing the “right way.”

Of late I’ve been hearing a lot about the extraordinarily beautiful sunsets. Steve Goldsworthy even posted photos and commented on them. It’s a given; autumn and winter bring shorter daylight hours and sunsets glowing in hues of pink, red and orange. So, what’s going on? The brief science of the exquisite follows …

First, Colors of the Rainbow 101: Blue light has a short wavelength and is scattered easiest by air molecules. Longer wavelength lights – reds and oranges – are less scattered. At sunset, light – as seen from the human eye ¬– takes a longer path through the atmosphere, while at noon it’s right overhead. The angle of the autumn sun, plus the clear air windswept by Santa Anas, allow wavelength-producing colors to prevail.

Clear skies, mild temperatures and winds are forecast. Look to the west during sunset.

“Do not go gentle into that good night,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”
~ Dylan Thomas


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