Folks in some parts of the state took to social media to share a crazy aftereffect of Dorian: The stormy skies had turned purple. And not just a slight purple tint. A phenomenon called “scattering” caused the clouds to turn a deep, grape-popsicle shade.
Here’s an example from Instagram user @lindaswicklesswax, who posted a no-filter pic from Tampa, on the Gulf Coast side of Florida:
@zerofouronetres posted an amazing shot from Jacksonville, also without using a photo filter.
Scattering, the phenomenon seen in these pics, happens when low clouds from the hurricane distort the sun’s ultraviolet rays. The light gets scattered by low-lying clouds, making the sunset sky look purple instead of orange and red.
Those of us who live in tornado country can relate — it’s common to note that the skies take on a menacing greenish color when tornado conditions develop. The same principle is in effect here, too: Raindrops from the huge thunderstorms that create tornados bend and scatter the sun’s rays to split white sunlight into its different colors at separate wavelengths; we see the color that’s most frequently bounced around the sky. Tornados often set up in the afternoon or evening, when atmospheric conditions change (normally showing us red and yellow and other sunset colors). The combination of extra water molecules and sunlight bounce the green rays of light around better than any other color, so that’s what we see.
But back to Dorian’s purple farewell. Another Jacksonville ‘Grammer, @mikesmanis, nabbed this gorgeous, stormy shot.
Florida residents were probably feeling extra lucky that they dodged Dorian’s wrath this week — the magical purple sunsets were just a bonus.
Unfortunately, Dorian’s still on track to cause big trouble along the coast of the Carolinas in the coming days. Now rated a Category 2 storm, hurricane rains have already created flooding issues in Charleston, South Carolina, with more rain and high winds to come.
Purple skies are nice, but here’s hoping everyone stays safe.